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Tech talk dominates Conference for Food Protection

Opinion

The bi-annual Conference for Food Protection includes several opportunities for discussion and comment.

The bi-annual Conference for Food Protection includes several opportunities for discussion and comment.

BOISE, ID — Advances in technology were merged into a day which ranged from fear to a science-based confidence at the bi-annual Conference for Food Protection this weekend.

Deep dives into the realities of produce farming and the recurring global challenge of bird flu, lighted paths for needed research at the farm level. Risks at the retail level were driven home by an inside look at the formation of biofilms both on food and high-touch nonfood contact surfaces.

Speakers empathized the importance of frequent surface cleaning as opposed to a quick pass of sanitizer. Biofilm-forming agents quickly assess the properties of their surface and create a tailored protective matrix, nearly impervious to casual attempts to kill rather than clean.

Attention to high-touch surface issues immediately moved the discussion to staff training on hand washing at all points of the supply chain from the farm to the fork. Attendees chimed in pointing out the needed “training” at the C-suite level to change staff behavior in a sustainable way.

An application of robotics demonstrated a path where physical food handling was eliminated in transporting food from the kitchen to hospital patient rooms.

The thread of whole genome sequencing bridged from the morning’s highly technical workshop to the afternoon’s conference keynote where it became clear that failure to solve known food safety issues is now being defined as a crime, even without criminal intent. Food safety is increasingly a matter being taken up by the FBI.

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