The 2015 annual meeting of the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) got underway yesterday at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, OR. We will be in the Rose City today through Tuesday because IAFP is always one of the most newsworthy food safety events of the year, and this one will be no different. IAFP is chock full of content, with a schedule for people who are serious about their profession. I am personally looking forward to the “Al and Mike” show when the nation’s top two food safety officials take the stage together. USDA’s Acting Under Secretary for Food Safety, Al Almanza, and FDA’s Assistant Commissioner for Food, Mike Taylor, are certain to draw a big crowd. IAFP’s John H. Silliker Lecture for 2015 will be given by Francis (Frank) Busta, Ph.D, director emeritus of the National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD), on “Challenging the Conventional.” I have no idea what that means, which is a good reason to attend. There are the usual seminars, poster sessions, and the like, which promise “information on current and emerging food safety issues, the latest science, innovative solutions to new and recurring problems, and the opportunity to network with thousands of food safety professionals from around the globe.” Close to 3,000 industry, academic and government food safety officials and staffers from six continents are expected to gather in Portland for IAFP, making it one of the world’s top annual food safety conferences. IAFP got its start in 1911, the same year Boston suffered from a massive and deadly outbreak of Streptococcus from home-delivered raw milk. Hundreds were sickened and 48 died. Milk inspectors from the U.S., Canada, and Australia gathered during the same year in Milwaukee to organize the International Association of Dairy and Milk Inspectors. In 1922, Portland also went through a deadly Streptococcus outbreak that left 22 people dead. Those deaths, too, were attributed to home-delivered raw milk from a well-respected dairy. As its members worked to make milk safe, the group became the International Association of Milk Sanitarians in 1936, the International Association of Milk and Food Sanitarians Inc. in 1947, and the International Association of Milk, Food and Environmental Sanitarians in 1966. All of those developments were before 1999, when IAFP’s current name was adopted. I think the reason the IAFP’s annual conferences have earned such a reputation is because its members are the “first responders” in the war on pathogens, and the group encourages them to share their stories. And if you, too, are attending IAFP in Portland this week, be sure to visit the Food Safety News booth. I am not sure what we will have there — the higher-ups decide these things — but it’s an opportunity for you to get free stuff and meet celebrities. Don’t hold me to it though because usually the news staff is off doing other things. From the news side, Cathy Siegner, James Andrews, and I will be there. So look us up, especially if you have something you’d like to say, or if you have government secrets you’d like to share.
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