We have all heard the phrase “knowledge is power.” The truth is knowledge without someone to share it with and make grow is simply information.
For food-safety professionals we have witnessed the value of active and continuous knowledge exchange among members. In the produce industry, connecting with members within a trade association provides that exponential growth to make individuals, companies, and the industry stronger. That’s because knowledge shared is power toward achieving common public health goals. The value of knowledge exchange in food safety, especially in the non-competitive atmosphere, remains invaluable and is not to be missed.
Food safety, like many scientific disciplines, relies on a strong understanding of fundamental principles in biology and chemistry, and how these variables interact in an agricultural and food production environment. At the same time, working in food safety demands being open to ever-changing developments in agricultural production, market and regulatory demands, and new science that supports best practices. Produce safety, in particular, poses unique challenges to the industry because of its lack of a processing step to reduce or eliminate harmful microorganisms. Differences in climate, commodities, cultivation, harvest, and postharvest practices mean that the exchange of ideas, best practices, and sometimes even learnings from foodborne illness outbreaks are incredibly valuable to the entire produce industry as new food-safety issues emerge.
There is no place better for produce industry professionals to engage and exchange ideas than at the IFPA Global Produce and Floral Show. Unlike many programs that are focused on a topic, this show brings the full supply chain together. For food-safety professionals, engaging with many people across the industry and the globe provides an opportunity to think cross-collaboratively. Since pathogens and contaminants know no geographic boundaries, the science that supports our knowledge base must be robust and consider a variety of approaches for each segment of the food supply chain. Sharing solutions that are novel supports the growing need for the incorporation of more safe, nutritious fruits and vegetables in our daily diet.
At the same time, connecting with experts yields an immediate impact on businesses today. We consistently hear from IFPA members that some of the most valuable parts of attending events, programs, or council meetings is connecting with other industry members to share ideas, solutions, and experiences to better prepare them for roles in produce safety — especially those that fall into the crisis category (recalls, outbreaks) or to achieve regulatory compliance. There is an abundance of knowledge and experience in our industry — why not tap into it for yourself? For food-safety leaders, the Managing Produce Safety Pressure: Achieving Your ROI Anywhere in the Supply Chain during the education festival and Food Safety and Tech X Change sessions on Thursday provide opportunities for dedicated learning and knowledge exchange with industry colleagues on a variety of hot topics from emerging pathogens to how we can improve food safety culture.
The IFPA Food Safety & Regulatory team advocates for sound science to support best practices and policies for food safety and provides support to members in times of public health crisis. We support IFPA members’ food-safety and quality programs and regulatory compliance through proactive training, consultation, resources and professional development. The team includes technical staff, each with extensive networks throughout the regulatory arena, academia, and within the broader food and beverage industry. Though the IFPA Food Safety & Regulatory team are here to support members, ultimately, the biggest gains are through the dedication of members who devote their time and energy to knowledge sharing, implementing food-safety practices, and driving change within the produce industry. There’s no better place to get the latest information than at the Global Produce and Floral Show.
By IFPA staff