Global Food Safety Initiative’s Conference

This year’s Global Food Safety Initiative’s (GFSI) conference was opened by GFSI Director, Erica Sheward, former VP at Leatherhead Food Research.

Erica set out with a rousing keynote speech, emphasising the need for a united front against food safety risks, highlighting ambitions to take the GFSI to the next level in its objective to ensure safe food for all.

This was a theme echoed throughout the conference, which combined insights from the likes of Amazon about how data and artificial intelligence are increasingly enabling them to predict product failures and identify non-compliance. Alongside more familiar stories and contributors which emphasised the importance of ensuring basic hygiene practice throughout the supply chain and through to the consumer. 

It truly feels like a time of change as the industry prepares itself to more radically adopt new technologies along with its transition to Industry 4.0. Frank Yiannas, Deputy Commissioner – Food Policy and Response of the FDA summarised much of this as he outlined the Agency’s new food safety blueprint. This included a much greater focus on digital technologies to improve traceability and enable collaboration (amongst others) in order to both predict and manage food safety risk in an era where new business models and risks continue to evolve. Roy Kirby, Global Director, Microbiology, Food Safety and Toxicology at Mondelez and a GFSI board member summed up the Group’s intention at the end of the conference: “wouldn’t it be great if consumers didn’t know what a food-borne illness was?”

We were pleased to contribute to such a fantastic initiative. Leatherhead’s Mark Butcher spoke of the opportunities Technical departments can realise if they put the consumer perspective at the heart of decision making.

We will be releasing an accompanying white paper later this month which members can access through the membership portal.