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Marquee food safety event in Tampa begins with talk of change

The annual meeting of the International Association for Food Protection begins its four-day run today in Tampa. With 4,000 members and 54 affiliates around the globe, IAFP’s yearly meeting is a marquee event for world food safety.

This evening’s keynote address — The Ivan Parkin Lecture — is scheduled for 7 p.m., with USDA scientist Jose Emilio Esteban of the Food Safety and Inspection Service in Athens, GA, planning to talk about change. His presentation is billed as: “The Anthropologist, the Chef, and the Kitchen Sink.”

In a preview, Esteban indicated he will focus on how food safety is not the same as it was yesterday, or a year ago, or a decade ago.

“How we interact within and between academia, industry and government has to change and adapt. Pathogens change, we adjust by creating new interventions,” he said in the preview.

“Biocides are developed and drug residues are introduced into our food supply, we find better ways to decontaminate. Constant changes in hazards require us to generate new detection and characterization technologies in an endless attempt to detect at lower levels, with faster speed, and with more accuracy. Where does this cycle end?”

In the lecture, Esteban plans to share two perspectives, that of an anthropologist and a chef, both addressing the common goal of having enough food, feed and fuel, to sustain an ever growing, and aging, population. His preview in his own words:

Jose Emilio Esteban

“When was the last time you had time to think how we got to here?

“What is considered food today may not have been ‘food’ a few years ago. What is normal for one consumer group may be considered strange for another. Today’s level of detection for an analytical method was only considered theoretical a few years ago.

“Remember life without a cell phone? Remember life without the internet? Pathogens that could be easily neutralized are now resistant and that resistance is now a permanent part of the genetic possibilities for the foreseeable future.

“We may all walk different paths and we will all have intermediate stops; however, we are all headed in the same general direction. The IAFP Annual Meeting, is the one occasion where industry, academia, and government representatives from the entire world assemble to exchange information. Relationships are forged, lifelong partnerships are made, and the seeds of change are planted. We all have one goal in mind, food safety. Unless we try to understand where we came from and where we are, it’s impossible to know where we want to be.

“The anthropologist view will help us understand characteristics of consumers, behaviors, and preferences. Only by understanding this can we move forward to where we want to be. The chef perspective will then give us a sense of reality for today and instill creativity for where we can go. Hope you enjoy a personal perspective of the world through metaphors.”

Following Esteban’s delivery of The Ivan Parkin Lecture, an opening reception is scheduled to begin at 7: 30 p.m. on the IAFP trade show floor.

Jim Mann of the Handwashing for Life Institute, left, presents the NSF Lifetime Achievement Award for Food Safety to Dave Theno at the 2017 Food Safety Summit in May. A few weeks later, Theno was hit by a large wave and killed on June 19 while swimming with his grandson near Hulopoʻe Beach in Hawaii. (Photo by Brad Meese)

Chicago-based nonprofit Stop Foodborne Illness is scheduled to launch an annual fellowship award program at the reception as a memorial in honor of Dave Theno, his work and his vision for advancement in food safety.

Monday, a special session over the noon hour will feature a regulatory update on food safety from Al Almanza, USDA’s acting deputy under secretary for food safety and administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service, and Stephen Ostroff, deputy commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration.

In addition to its numerous workshops, more than 200 exhibitors will be on hand through Wednesday to meet with more than 3,400 industry, academic and government food safety professionals and experts from six continents who are registered to will be in attend.

Complete details about the 2017 IAFP Annual Meeting at the Tampa Convention Center are available online. Follow the event on social media at #IAFP2017. Check Food Safety News coverage this week and continuing in the weeks ahead. 

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