Arlington, VA – More than 400 global food safety professionals, research experts and food safety policy leaders joined the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) today at the virtual Food Safety Forum. Co-hosted with the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA), the event convened global experts and food safety professionals for a series of sessions that explored the detection methods related to foodborne non-cultivable pathogens, their limitations, and how current risk assessment science can be used to support these methods and inform regulatory and public health policy.
The three-hour forum included multiple expert panels that provided an overview of foodborne non-cultivable pathogens, such as enteric viruses and protozoan parasites, and current PCR-based detection methodologies, interpretation of positive test results, and their relationship to food contamination and public health risk. Speakers also highlighted potential policy implications and discussed guidance to support prevention and control strategies among growers and food processors.
“The Food Safety Forum is an opportunity for AFFI and IFPA to bring together the scientific community to address the pressing and emerging issues and drive a more complete understanding of challenging topics that intersect food production and public health policy,” said Dr. Donna Garren, AFFI’s Executive Vice President of Science and Policy. “As non-cultivable pathogens become increasingly studied and tested as part of regulatory and internal food safety programs, the Food Safety Forum creates a venue where professionals can review the scientific body of knowledge, assess food safety procedures, and look to future implementation.”
A full list of speakers from academia, government and the food industry is available online. As part of the programming, AFFI shared a library of food safety resources available to growers and processors for the management of enteric viruses, including a complementary set of best practices and a professional certificate program. Additional association partner organizations included the National Restaurant Association, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and FMI – The Food Industry Association.
“As the food industry, scientists and regulators share research and advance the knowledge of foodborne non-cultivable pathogens, this is also a time to consider how this information will help in the assessment of potential contamination and public health impact,” added Dr. Garren. “AFFI welcomes and is pleased to foster a scientific dialogue that will both help drive best safety practices and inform the application of regulatory policies”
The American Frozen Food Institute is the member-driven national trade association representing all segments of the frozen food supply chain from manufacturers to suppliers and distributors. AFFI advocates before legislative and regulatory entities on the industry’s behalf, serves as the voice for the industry and convenes industry leadership to create an environment where frozen foods are essential in a dynamic marketplace. www.affi.org