AUSTIN, Texas — Food
Safety Symposium attendees had plenty of “Aha!” moments.
The Aug. 19 event, in
conjunction with the Texas Produce Convention, was the third in a series
hosted by the Produce Marketing Association.
Bob Whitaker, chief
science officer, and Lorna Christie, chief operating officer of Newark,
Del.-based PMA presented real-world, actionable information for attendees.
They were joined by Minneapolis-based personal injury attorney Elliot
Olsen, who spoke about his firm’s litigation on behalf of victims of
foodborne illness outbreaks.
Whitaker talked to about
two dozen attendees on the need for a vulnerability checklist to identify
the flaws and the detailed cost of a food safety program for small- and
medium-sized companies, from personnel to audits and inspections.
Audits, he said, should
be tools and not the backbone of a food safety program.
Christie’s portion of the
program dealt with crisis management — particularly with how a company
should deal with an outbreak from internal and external communications.
included what a company should do when reporters call in the wake of an FDA
advisory or a company’s product recall. Having a crisis
plan already in place and
a spokesperson ready to address issues is essential, she said.
Chris Eddy, director of
sales and marketing for Edinburg-based Frontera Produce Ltd., said the
program was valuable.
“We have a comprehensive
food safety program in place,” Eddy said. “This helped identify potential
areas where we might have holes in that program and areas where we can make
our program stronger.”
Whitaker said it is gratifying to see participants taking home the messages
and, after doing three of these programs so far, the message is really
resonating with the industry.
“We can see it when we
come to an idea people haven’t thought of,” he said. “We can see it on
their faces and when they start writing it down.”
The next Food Safety
Symposium is planned for Oct. 14 in Rochester, N.Y.
more information visit www.pmafoodsafety.com.