November 5, 2015 - Food safety professionals from academia, government and industry descended upon the Mississauga Convention Centre on for the 57thAnnual Food Industry Symposium and Annual General Meeting. The meeting was again well attended and supported by the membership & guests. The Association again thanks all the sponsors and donators of door prizes for their continued support that makes the meeting possible.
Introducing A Bit Of Culture
The theme of this year’s meeting was food safety culture, a concept that is often talked about but no clear direction on how it can be achieved in a real-life setting. Lone Jespersen (Director Food Safety and Operations Learning Maple Leaf Foods) gave a keynote address on how food safety culture was developed following the Listeria outbreak. She entertained the audience with the long journey to establish a food safety culture and what benefits it can bring to an organization. Her presentation was followed by Richard Meldrum (Ryerson University) and Sukhman Grewal (QA Specialist, Pusateri’s Fine Foods) who provided an overview of a Food Safety Culture tool that has been developed by collaboration between Ryerson and Guelph University. The tool can be used to identify the weak points in food safety culture of an organization and how this can be improved.
Rick Wong from NFF-GFTC presented on the “New Proposed Requirements for the Nutrition Facts”. Health Canada wanted to know if the current requirements on the food labels are effective so they conducted a series of on-line consultation. And they found out that while the current label information in useful, there is room for improvement. Hence the proposed changes to the regulations that govern the information on the labels of all pre-packaged foods sold in Canada. Rick did a great job in walking us through a comparison of the current and proposed labels, pointing out the differences, what’s been added and removed, and what information has been moved to a different area on the label. A lot of detail was covered in his half hour presentation; however you are sure not to miss anything because we have the slides posted on our OFPA website!
Scholarship Presentations – A proud moment for 3 outstanding students who received scholarships from the OFPA and were honoured at this meeting – Jigna Patel from Durham College; Kaitlyn Balon from Ryerson University; and Yenny Kurniawan from George Brown College. The students had an opportunity to give a short presentation of the research they are doing.
OFPA 2015 Awards
Two nominations were submitted for each of the Award of Merit and Sanitarian- Food Safety Professional of the Year. For the former, the Award of Merit was given to Sani Marc for their continued support of events organized by the OFPA. Trophy Foods Inc were awarded the Sanitarian and Food Safety Professional of the year through outstanding performance in implementing standards that go beyond those required under SQF. Lifetime achievement award for 2015 was given to Michael Brodsky. Michael is a Past-President of the OFPA and was instrumental in the rapid growth of the association back in the late 1990’s. He also was the President of the IAFP and Past-President of AOAC International. Michael continues to support the OFPA and has moderated on the famous round-table-discussion held at the fall meetings.
It has been a turbulent (revolving door) kind of year on the OFPA board with many coming and goings. The Association had two presidents this year and both Lynne & Peter were awarded Past-Presidents Award. The final act of Lynne as Past-President was to pass the now repaired gavel to Moustapha who will be President in 2016.
Round Table Discussion
The Panel Discussion – Today’s Biggest Challenges to the Food Industry. The panel was expertly facilitated by Michael Brodsky and we had representation from academia (Dr. Richard Meldrum) and industry (Lone Jespersen, Sukhman Grewal, and Sonja Milutin). Panelists zeroed in on what they thought are the biggest challenges to the Food Industry are: need for Food Safety Culture; how industry’s push to reduce costs affects food safety; need for more effective, efficient regulations; role of 3rdparty auditors; and the need to teach food safety in the schools at an early age. It was an exhilarating panel with lots of audience participation and feedback that included comments that this was the highlight of the day!
Hot Topics of the Day
As tradition predicts, the last session of the day was devoted to discussing hot topic of the day. The audience were privileged to hear two excellent presentations by Jeff and Kathy – both considered globally recognized experts. Jeffery Farber provided an overview of lessons learnt from the past Listeria outbreaks both within Canada and beyond. Kathy, sponsored by the IAFP Speakers Program, provided an overview on her research on the growth of Listeria monocytogenes on caramel apples. Word must have got around as most retails moved candy apples to refrigeration after her research was reported in the media.
The OFPA always values feedback from its members and other attendees as this is the only way to deliver meetings of relevance. From this year’s feedback; 80% of those returning the evaluation form considered the overall meeting at satisfactory or excellent. Over 80% of respondents thought the Trade Show was good-excellent and relevant to their professional interests. Comments that will be considered in planning the next meeting included:-
- More discussion on regulatory issues especially in relation to SME operations
- Update on food safety research in relation to risk assessment and management
- Outbreaks of the day and lessons learnt
- Update and prevention of food fraud
- Auditing and training
For OFPA Members Only: more information about the event, including technical presentations and papers can be found by in the private Members area after logging in. Not a member? Want access to the technical presentations? Join OFPA Today!