I am honored to be the chair of the 2017 Global Food Safety Conference that will be held February 28 through March 2, 2017 in Houston, Texas. This will be the 16th conference that the CGF-GFSI has held to promote and raise the bar on food safety globally and is the first time that the conference will be held in the great state of Texas.
The 2017 GFSC Committee is busy working to develop an outstanding program that leverages the successes of our past conferences and incorporates the feedback that many of the attendees have provided, all while looking to the future of how the Global Food Safety Initiative will continue to drive the vision of Safe Food for Consumers, Everywhere.
Our conference theme this year is “Leadership for Growth”. The work that GFSI is doing on food safety is not only about compliance to regulations and standards, but supports the efforts to feed a growing population that according to estimates will reach 9 Billion people by 2050. We have structured the program to address many of the areas that will enable the food industry to meet these challenges in the coming years. As food safety is non-competitive and one food safety problem can impact every company in the food chain, we must collaborate to ensure that on food safety, all boats rise with the tide.
One outstanding highlight of the conference is that we will kick the program off with a panel of CEO’s discussing the importance of food safety to their companies. The co-chairs of the Safety Pillar for The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) under which GFSI operates, Danny Wegman – CEO, Wegman Foods and Irene Rosenfeld – CEO, Mondelēz International, will be in attendance. Additional participation is planned from the senior leaders of Cargill, Ecolab, Hershey Foods, and Tyson Foods. The committee believes that this will be an outstanding way to start the conference as no organization can have a strong food safety culture without the right leadership from the top.
In addition to the opening session, we will address many important themes throughout the three days including the impact of technology on Food Safety and how we engage and collaborate with key stakeholders in this journey. Also planned is continued engagement with governments from around the world and how they can leverage 3rd party certification against a GFSI benchmarked scheme as part of their risk management approach. Our closing session will also not be one to miss.
Finally, we have ensured that there is plenty of time for networking by starting each day a little later (and bringing back the breakfast sessions!), along with ending each day by 5:30 PM. The committee also has an excellent venue planned for the official conference dinner, which will show off the best that Houston has to offer. So please plan to join me and over 1000 food safety professionals in Houston for the best and biggest Global Food Safety Conference yet!