Members ofFood Processing Suppliers Association (FPSA) and theInstitute of Food Technologists(IFT) met in Chicago this month to discuss food safety during FPSA's annual operations conference. The Sept. 10 event featured presentations by  Dr. Katherine Swanson, vice president, Ecolab; and Dr. Joseph Shebuski, director of global safety for Cargill, Inc.

Dr. Swanson provided a global overview of the food safety issues and concerns.

“It is estimated that there are over 1 billion cases of food borne illness that result in over 1 million deaths worldwide," she noted.

Four actors contributing to U.S. food borne illness are: food left at room temperature for several hours; bare-hand contact by food handler; inadequate cleaning of equipment; and product handling by an infected person or carrier.

“Supplier understanding of food safety issues is essential,” noted Swanson, who emphasized that the topic requires “time, commitment, communication and training."

Taking the issue one step further, Dr. Shebuski addressed the topic: “What is the Food Processing Suppliers' Role in Ensuring the Safety of Food Products."

Dr. Shebuski examined how improperly designed food processing equipment can contribute to food borne illness. He summarized his recommendations to suppliers with the following:

-    Ensure the equipment can be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized
-    Design for efficient and complete disassembly/reassembly
-    Eliminate areas likely to harbor pathogens or prevent the complete removal of allergens
-    Ensure the equipment is constructed of materials compatible with cleaning/sanitation chemicals
-    Provide direction for preventive maintenance
-    Provide validation data demonstrating the capability of the equipment to achieve its intended purpose

The joint FPSA and IFT meeting also featured breakout sessions involving a Bakery Industry Council and the Meat Industry Suppliers Alliance (MISA). FPSA, sponsors of PROCESS EXPO, will co-locate this event with the Annual Conference and IFT Food Expo in Chicago in July of 2010.