2011 Beef Industry Safety Summit: Record attendance set
More than 240 beef industry leaders, researchers and government officials joined together March 2-4 in Dallas, TX, to investigate ways of further increasing the safety of beef products. Attendance at the 9th Beef Industry Safety Summit, funded in part by the beef checkoff, was a new record. Participants included those closely involved with producing a safe beef supply and welcomed the venue for learning more about the status of U.S. beef safety and sharing their own ideas and thoughts for how to best minimize human health risks associated with the food consumers eat.
The three-day event included updates on current safety issues and interventions, the latest research findings, forums on emerging pathogens and technical workshops that allowed attendees to candidly share ideas on improving processes that can best reduce safety risks. Included in the program was a keynote address from Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, USDA under secretary for food safety, who reminded the group that “everyone wins when food is safe, and no one wins when it is not.”
Among the topics discussed at the event was the emergence of non-O157 STECs, or Shiga toxin producing E. coli. Not enough is known about these pathogens, some of which can cause significant human illness. They are not easy to identify in the laboratory, and government officials are expressing more interest in STECs, some of which may be associated with beef.
Packer/processor representatives also discussed sampling processes, what they learned from a food safety events and recalls, and procedures to use when validating the effectiveness of a safety system. These sessions offered participants the opportunity to share ideas and suggestions with industry colleagues to improve their operations and on the ultimate safety of beef.
The Beef Industry Safety Summit is coordinated by the Beef Industry Food Safety Council (BIFSCo), a group that represents every segment of the beef industry, from cow-calf producers to packers and processors to retailers and foodservice operators. Funded in part by the beef checkoff, BIFSCo is committed to developing industry-wide, science-based strategies to address food safety issues in beef. Among BIFSCO’s contributions to food safety are best practice documents, which serve as roadmaps for making beef an even safer product.
The first Beef Industry Safety Summit was hosted by BIFSCo in January 2003 in San Antonio, TX, and attracted 200 participants. Next year’s Beef Safety Summit will take place in Tampa, FL.
For more information about your checkoff investment in beef safety programs, visit MyBeefCheckoff.com.
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