NICE, France, 6th March 2019 – The 2019 GFSI Conference, organised by The Consumer Goods Forum’s Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), came to a successful close last week with more than 1000 delegates from the food industry, government and academia from over 60 countries joining the event at Nice Acropolis in France.
The Conference opened with Emmanuel Faber Chairman & CEO of Danone who, as an industry leader who has long placed food safety at the centre of his business strategy, outlined the changes in consumer behaviour he’d witnessed in the twenty years since GFSI began. Faber concluded his speech by reiterating how crucial it is for his 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 witnessed Jean-Pierre Cravedi, Director of Research at the INRA describing obsolescence in classical toxicology and encouraged his colleagues to shift to newer, more effective methodologies. In addition, Ikko Watanabe, Deputy Director of Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) explained how his historically conservative organisation is learning to adapt to new technologies and described how MAFF has fostered a public-private partnership programme 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 Programme and its ambassadors. The Global Markets Programme is the GFSI’s step-by-step capability building programme 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 programme 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 emphasised 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 digitisation remaining at the forefront. However, delegates were also 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 Special 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 instalment of the GFSI Conference will be held in Seattle, USA in 2020.
Please find visuals of the conference here.
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