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Creativity, Camaraderie, Community: My Experience at the 2024 Food Safety Summit

Guest Post By Dr. Darin Detwiler, Professor, Author and Renowned Food Safety Icon and Advocate

The 2024 Food Safety Summit in Chicago brought together a rich tapestry of people, concerns, achievements, ideas, and solutions. To me, this event is like a perfect blend of timeless protagonists and antagonists in a story about the Herculean efforts behind food safety.

The range of products and solutions showcased at the Summit reflects the diverse challenges faced by the food industry, each product or service addressing a unique food safety issue. This provided attendees with the opportunity to learn from experts and engage in hands-on experiences.

As an academic, I see this as a significant bonus, especially for those whose training may not be as scientific or technology based as others. I wish more students had exposure to these diverse solutions beyond descriptions and photos online or in books. Seeing the exhibitors and their passion behind their solutions is not only eye-opening but also inspirational. Learning about solutions, such as high-quality food handling gloves, food production line x-rays, or thermal intelligence, highlights the various stages along food’s journey where critical control points can benefit.

Digital solutions, such as Logile’s Thermal IntelligenceTM, allow for real-time (and even remote) monitoring of food products. This innovative technology offers real-time, accurate data ideal for maintaining optimal food storage and handling conditions, thus reducing the risk of foodborne illnesses. The increasing levels of efficiency and transparency inspire and support the optimism and courage we seek in food safety leaders.

The Summit’s exhibitor hall reminded me of the bustling malls and vibrant food courts of the 1980s. Each booth, with its unique offerings, was like a storefront, representing the diverse needs and solutions within the global food landscape. This event is a microcosm of the broader food industry, showcasing a wide spectrum of solutions from the “sorcerers” and “scientists” who identify critical issues and dedicate resources and years to develop effective solutions.

The Summit wasn’t just about technology and products or services; it was a gathering of both freshmen food safety leaders (in the first years of their career, some right out of college) and senior, seasoned experts (the voices, the teachers, the trailblazers). We hugged, made introductions, and took selfies. This, to me, was the food safety culture that is often defined on stage or in writing, but that people sometimes struggle to visualize. Those moments of connection and camaraderie are what I see as the true essence of food safety culture.

The 2024 Food Safety Summit in Chicago was a celebration of the food safety community. From exploring new technologies like thermal intelligence to engaging with both new and seasoned professionals, the Summit reinforced the importance of collaboration and continuous learning in advancing food safety.

Related: Dr. Darin Detwiler Teams Up With Logile to Improve Retail Food Safety

About the author
Dr. Darin Detwiler is an award-winning food safety academic, advisor, advocate, and author. For nearly 30 years, he has played a unique role in controlling foodborne illness. After losing his son, Riley, to E.coli in 1993 Jack in the Box outbreak, the Secretary of Agriculture invited Detwiler’s collaboration on consumer education. Detwiler is a professor of food policy and corporate social responsibility at Northeastern University and has served in appointed or other advisory capacities for the USDA, the FDA, NEHA, and more. His research and insights have appeared across industry and media publications, TV, podcasts, his own books “Food Safety: Past, Present, and Predictions” and “Building the Future of Food Safety Technology,” and in the 2023 Netflix documentary “Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food.”

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