A session on the safety of novel foods on the third day at IAFP 2022.
A session on the safety of novel foods on the third day at IAFP 2022.
Jason Brill

Day 3 at IAFP Included Sessions on Virtual Food Safety Monitoring, Novel Food Safety and More

Other sessions included one on how food industry students can navigate life during and after graduate school, and one on data sharing.

Editor's Note: QA staff are on the ground in Pittsburgh for this year's IAFP 2022. Follow us on Twitter for live updates.

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Day 3 of IAFP 2022 was all about interesting sessions that involved a wide range of food industry topics and how they deal with food safety and quality. 

At the session Virtual Food Safety Monitoring, Auditing and Artificial Intelligence Applications, Rob Chester, CEO of Ubloquity, discussed how blockchain and other technologies can drive efficiency in companies while maintaining virtual control of safety, quality, traceability authenticity and carbon footprint.

Chester said he thinks that in the future, blockchain will transform how supply chains operate.

“The outcomes from building a transparent and real-time supply chain are obviously numerous,” he said. “Much greater visibility, better tracking and traceability, payment times can be improved, delivery progress is easier to monitor and react to, and that will reduce operational costs.”

In an afternoon session in the main ballroom, Yanyan Huang, ADM, Kurt E. Westmoreland, FlexXray, and David D. Rasmussen, Kraft Heinz Corporation, discussed the food safety challenges with plant-based or novel food products. With the boom in demand for these products, all three speakers reinforced the importance of keeping them safe. 

Discussing the ingredients that go into novel foods, Huang talked about the importance of understanding how you're using the ingredients. For example, she said, tumeric can be a coloring or flavoring agent, a supplement and more. Each way you use it can have different food safety challenges. She also said the form you use of the ingredient can present different challenges — using something fresh, as an extract or as a concentrate will have different risks. 

Kurt Westmoreland of FlexXray, which provides foreign material inspection services, cautioned on the challenges plant-based foods might cause when developing a HAACP plan. Routine HACCP plans in plant-based manufacturing facilities typically include microbiological and/or chemical verification processes and systems, he said.

To wrap up the session, Rasmussen reminded attendees that if you’re using a co-packer for your novel food product, do you know what else they make? “They might do hamburgers and you want them to do your new plant-based burger,” he said. “Remember, this is not your facility and you can’t be there everyday.”

Two late afternoon sessions included discussions on data sharing and what it's like to be a food industry student during and after graduate school.  

In a discussion that was lively and funny but also included frank discussions of mental health and self care, David A. Buckley, Diversey, Suzy Hammons, USDA-FSIS, Tia Glave, Catalyst, LLC, and Chip S. Manuel, GOJO Industries, Inc., offered advice on life after graduate school and beyond academia.

“What one skill would have biggest impact on a career?” a student audience member asked the group.

“Leadership skills. How do you influence others? … Those leadership skills are key. Think about strategy and influence and communicating with non-technical stakeholders,” said Glave.

Another student asked: How do you negotiate for yourself when it comes to salary and work-life balance?

“Be more diverse than just the salary number. … And advocate early. Find allies in an organization and build support,” said Hammons.

In a meeting room next door, there was roundtable discussion called Public-Private Data Sharing: A New Opportunity for Risk-Based Decision Making in Food Safety.

The No. 1 barrier to data-sharing is trust, Kelly Stevens of General Mills told the attendees. 

“There’s unintended consequences of data being shared out of scope,” she said, adding that data must be shared with the appropriate context to offer insight and meaning.

To improve data sharing, the industry needs to invest in what Dr. Barbara Kowalcyk, Ohio State University professor, calls “translational data scientists”: people who understand both data analytics and food safety, which she said is rare.

The solution is investing in educational programs to train for these roles, she said.