Maple Leaf Foods hosted its 10th annual Food Safety Symposium in Mississauga, Ontario on Oct. 2, supporting its ongoing commitment to advancing learning and dialogue across industry, government, academia and civil society.
A decade ago, 23 Canadians lost their lives and many people became ill as a result of products contaminated with listeria monocytogenes which were produced at Maple Leaf's Bartor Road facility in Toronto. This tragedy led Maple Leaf Foods to make a long-term commitment to become a global leader in food safety through significant focus and investment in people, technologies and leading food safety practices. This includes enhancing learning and food safety practices across the industry.
For the past 10 years, the Company has hosted an annual Food Safety Symposium, where industry professionals are invited to a day of open dialogue, debate and learnings about important and timely food safety topics.
The theme of this year's symposium was Culture and Trust – Essential Elements for Food Safety. As the Center for Food Integrity (CFI) reported earlier this year, consumer research reveals a trust gap between consumers and the food industry, which highlights the need for increased consumer engagement by the food sector.
"Our industry faces a trust gap and we must shift and change in order to gain the trust of consumers in the health and safety of the food we produce," said Randy Huffman, chief food safety & sustainability officer, Maple Leaf Foods. "Building trust through increasing transparency in how our food is made is essential to building faith in the efficacy of the food system."
At this year's symposium, more than 70 organizations from a cross section of North American industry, government, academia and associations were represented by over 150 participants. The event challenged people to think about the food safety culture of their organizations and how they can build a culture of trust with their consumers.
For the first time in the symposium's history, attendees heard emotional and impactful accounts from speakers from the advocacy organization, Stop Foodborne Illness. Two speakers gave firsthand accounts of their experience living through dangerous and life-threatening foodborne illnesses, driving home the impact on peoples' lives.
2018 symposium speakers included:
- Tressa Bennett, attorney, foodborne illness survivor and food safety advocate
- Dr. Scott W. Brooks, consultant and owner of River Run Consulting, LLC.
- Dane Bernard, managing director, Bold Bear Food Safety
- Randy Huffman, chief food safety & sustainability officer, Maple Leaf Foods
- Lone Jespersen, principal at Cultivate, Ph.D., Hauterive NE, Canton of Neuchâtel, Switzerland
- Gillian Kelleher, VP of food safety & QA at Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.
- Ken Koehler, foodborne illness survivor
- Peter J. Taormina, president, Etna Consulting Group
- Michael R. Taylor, co-chair of Board, Safe Tables our Priority, and retired deputy commissioner of Foods, US FDA
- Matt Williams, vice president, manufacturing, Maple Leaf Foods
- Rick Young, senior vice president, operations, supply chain and purchasing, Maple Leaf Foods
"The annual Maple Leaf Foods Food Safety Symposium is an integral part of our food safety commitment," said Rick Young, senior vice president, operations, supply chain and purchasing, Maple Leaf Foods. "Transparency and openness is key to creating a stronger and safer food safety culture in North America, which consumers can trust and rely on. We will never stop learning and sharing."
Next year's Maple Leaf Foods Food Safety Symposium will be held on October 8, 2019 in Mississauga, Ontario. For future information on the 2019 symposium, visit: http://www.mapleleaffoods.com/food-safety/.