The Western Food Safety Conference was held May 4-5, 2022 at Hartnell College in Salinas, Calif. This year’s edition of the conference had the theme “The Culture of Food Safety,” and WG members and executives shared their first-hand learnings based on their years of experience in the industry.
Sonia Salas, AVP of Science at Western Growers, moderated a panel entitled: “How Do We Build a Food Safety Culture From Lessons Learned From Past Experience?” With panelists Samuel Duda of Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Joe Pezzini of Taylor Farms and Tim York with the LGMA, Salas discussed the experience of having a leadership role in building a food safety culture at their companies. “Food safety leaders were encouraged to promote a positive food safety culture and speak out when something doesn’t support that culture,” Salas said. “After all, a culture is created from thoughts, behaviors and actions over time.”
Walt Duflock, VP of Innovation at WG, conducted a panel with food safety consultant Tom Sidebottom that was called “Getting Candid: Framing the Conversation About Doing Things Differently.” The key takeaway was that innovation remains key to food safety success, and that helping consumers better understand the improvements the industry has made and continues to make around food safety can increase their confidence and consumption of fresh produce – which is still the world’s best medicine.
Afreen Malik, Science Programs Director at WG, participated in a panel entitled “On Farm Water Quality & Ag Order 4.0 – What Really Matters?” The panel focused on the complexity of Ag Order requirements, and how smaller operations, in particular, are struggling to comply the complex data collection and reporting requirements. It was stated that in order to assist these smaller operations and help protect the natural resources on which agriculture depends the best approach is to share knowledge, experience and data to present an evidence-based case to regulatory bodies.
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