2019 GFSI Conference Hosts More than 1000 Delegates

2019 GFSI Conference Hosts More than 1000 Delegates

Food industry, government, and academia from more than 60 countries join the event in Nice, France.

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March 14, 2019

The 2019 GFSI Conference, organized by The Consumer Goods Forum’s Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), came to a successful close earlier this month with more than 1000 delegates from the.

The conference opened with Danone Chairman & CEO Emmanuel Faber, who, as an industry leader who has long placed food safety at the center of his business strategy, outlined the changes in consumer behavior he’d witnessed in the 20 years since GFSI began. Faber concluded his speech by reiterating how crucial it is for the audience to continue to listen to the food safety signals from consumers in order to stay relevant.

In support of Faber’s message, the conference continued with speakers from across the global food safety industry who shone a spotlight on the ways that various corners of the food safety industry might change to remain relevant.

Chris Elliott, professor and food fraud expert from Queens University, listed seven principles of food integrity that companies should consider as they adapt to a dynamic and volatile world. Elliott also called for greater cross-sector collaboration stating that all stakeholders in the food industry must consider the people, environments and raw materials tied to every link in the supply chain if they’re to successfully meet his seven principles.

Audiences also heard INRA Director of Research Jean-Pierre Cravedi describe obsolescence in classical toxicology and encourage his colleagues to shift to newer, more effective methodologies. Japan Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) Deputy Director Ikko Watanabe explained how his historically conservative organization is learning to adapt to new technologies and described how MAFF has fostered a public-private partnership program called OpenLab that pairs regulators with innovators to develop a collaborative approach to food safety regulation.

On day two, the focus shifted to a celebration of the Global Markets Program and its ambassadors. The Global Markets Program is the GFSI’s step-by-step capability-building program for food operations on the pathway to certification and was credited by speaker Mike Taylor as “creating a group of ambassadors for GFSI around the world.” Furthermore, Luis Hernandez Juarez from Nestlé Mexico and Pierre de Ginestel from Auchan explained how they apply the program at their own companies.

On the final day of the GFSI Conference, delegates came face to face with real-life case studies which illustrate food safety applications of a broad range of technology, from whole genome sequencing to social media listening and “Big Data.”

While sophisticated technologies proved indispensable in these cases, the speakers emphasized that the real solution lies in public-private collaboration, and Julie Pierce of the UK FSA stated her belief that the GFSI “can convene the conversation, do the collaboration, get everybody broadly involved in this together.”

The technology focus continued with Tech Talks with blockchain, big data, internet of things, AI and digitization remaining at the forefront. However, delegates also were reminded of the importance of the human factor in the supply chain at discussions including Trace One’s Tech Talk on innovation and Ecolab’s session on food safety culture and training.  Continuing on this track the conference drew to a close with the audience being presented with case studies and personal testimonies about the implementation of food culture at Danone, McDonalds, and Nestlé.

The next GFSI Conference will be held in Seattle, Wash., in 2020.