The SQF Conference provides a variety of education opportunities for SQF stakeholders and food safety professionals in the manufacturing, retail and foodservice sectors.

The education program is delivered by food safety industry experts who offer sessions targeted to both those new to SQF as well seasoned SQF users. In addition, non-industry keynote speakers provide insights on personal development and general interest.

The conference also offers an opportunity to participate in Knowledge Swaps, where participants can get ideas, swap best practices, share pain points and connect with peers in their food safety category


Exhibitor Exchange
Keynote/General Session
Knowledge Swaps
Learning Lab
Other Activities
Pre Conference Training Classes
Social Events

Choose a Day

Monday, November 4, 2019

8:00 AM 5:00 PM
Pre-Conference Training Classes

SQFI will offer several training classes prior to the conference. The classes require payment of an additional fee, which can be selected during the conference registration process. You may also register for the training classes without registering for the conference.  Visit the Training Classes page for more information

2:00 PM 6:00 PM
5:00 PM 6:00 PM
Ambassador Program Orientation & Reception in the Exhibitor Exchange (by invite only)

Participants of the Ambassador Program are invited to a conference orientation and networking reception on Monday, November 4 from 5.00 pm – 6.00 pm. Meet your fellow “newbies,” find out how to make the most of the conference and get a private tour of the Exhibitor Exchange before the conference starts.


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

6:45 AM 6:00 PM
7:30 AM 9:00 AM
Welcome Breakfast in the Exhibitor Exchange
9:00 AM 10:00 AM
Shaping the Future of Food Safety Together: The Power of Partnership

Teamwork is key to protecting our food supply from foodborne illness, and  that takes trust, cooperation, communication and practice. In this unforgettable and inspiring keynote, The Passing Zone, one of America’s most dynamic performing duos, won’t just tell you how to be a high-performance team; they will show you. Jon and Owen not only work together – their safety is in each other’s hands! Witness a clear example of collaboration between two people who have prepared, who rely on each other’s strengths, who communicate, trust, and have fun cooperating. Through big laughs, exciting stunts and flawless teamwork, you’ll learn valuable lessons on the importance of recovering from setbacks, the value of trust, what it takes to create teamwork excellence and how to laugh together. Don’t miss this unique demonstration of the amazing things that can be accomplished when people work together.

The Passing Zone

10:00 AM 10:30 AM
Networking Break in the Exhibitor Exchange
10:30 AM 12:00 PM

The release of version 8 of GFSI’s Benchmarking Requirements in March 2020 gives SQFI the opportunity to assess and update the current SQF Code and address emerging issues and stakeholder concerns prior to releasing Edition 9 in late 2020. In this 2-part interactive session, SQF Stakeholders will get the unique opportunity to help shape the new edition of the Code and the future of food safety. In Part I we’ll give you an update on the SQF Program, share results of the 2019 stakeholder survey and provide an opportunity to ask questions in a town hall-style setting.

LeAnn Chuboff, Vice President, Technical Affairs, SQF Intitute

12:00 PM 1:30 PM
Lunch in the Exhibitor Exchange
1:30 PM 3:00 PM
Knowledge Swaps

Join in a lively discussion about the issues and challenges that impact food safety and quality professionals and SQF stakeholders. Get ideas, swap best practices, share your pain points and connect with your peers in your food safety category. Contact us if you are interested in moderating one of these discussion. Tips for facilitating a Knowledge Swap.

3:00 PM 3:30 PM
Networking Break in the Exhibitor Exchange
3:30 PM 4:30 PM
Fake Food: Combating the Scourge of Food Fraud and Adulteration

From “honey laundering” to melamine in baby formula and  horse meat in beef products, it is estimated that food fraud and adulteration costs the global economy more than $49 billion a year. Incidents of food and beverage mislabeling and fraud, particularly in high value food commodities are on the rise, damaging public trust in the integrity of the food chain and impacting the competitiveness and resilience of food businesses. Gain insights from experts in this area on recent examples of food fraud and learn how food fraud can be predicted and mitigated.


Andrew Swift, Director Science Services at Capita, CEO and CEO of Fera Science Ltd (UK Food Environment and Rural Affairs)
Peter Fowler, Senior Counsel for Enforcement, Office of Policy and International Affairs, United States Patent and Trademark Office
Jonathan Lewis, Senior Operations Manager CFSAN, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations
Marie Maguire, Senior Operations Manager CFSAN, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations

4:30 PM 5:00 PM
The 2019 SQFI Achievement Awards

The SQFI Quality Achievement Awards Program recognizes the outstanding commitment, support and performance of individuals who contribute to endorsing and improving the SQF Program and mission around the globe. Finalists will be recognized, and the winners announced at the conference.

2019 SQF Practitioner of the Year Award Finalists:

Amanda Kehres
Donna Peterson
Wendy Edwards

2019 SQF Auditor of the Year Award Finalists:

Melissa Ames
Shawna Wagner
Warren Blazy

5:00 PM 7:00 PM
Happy Hour in the Exhibitor Exchange

Join your peers for a casual networking reception in the Exhibitor Exchange. Catch up with old friends and network with potential business partners as you peruse the 50+ exhibit booths.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

6:30 AM 6:30 PM
7:00 AM 8:00 AM
Breakfast in the Exhibitor Exchange
8:00 AM 9:00 AM
Food Safety Insights: A USDA Update for SQF Stakeholders

Join Carmen, Rottenberg, Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) as she shares insights on: – the role of strong food safety management systems as they align with FSIS regulatory requirements. – how companies with more advanced food safety management systems in place will manage the regulatory requirements of the Meat Inspection Act and Poultry Products Inspection Act. – facilities with dual jurisdiction (regulated by both FDA and USDA)

Carmen Rottenberg, Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)

9:00 AM 9:30 AM
Fundamental Factors for Social Responsibility

In today’s “prosumer” world, consumers are placing greater pressure on suppliers and retailers to raise their standards and performance with regards to how products are made and who makes them. SQFI’s Fundamental Factors for Social Responsibility (F2SR) has been developed to address the growing importance of ethical sourcing. Join this session to learn more about F2S2 and how it can help you meet the supply chain demand for social responsibility certification.


Canaan Rice, Manager, Ethical Sourcing, Safe Quality Food Institute
Skip Greenaway, EAGLE Certification

9:45 AM 10:30 AM
Learning Labs

Creating Order out of Chaos – Tools and Tips for Managing Your Approved Supplier Program

Product recalls resulting from supplier performance issues impact the entire supply chain and can be traced back to failures and weaknesses in manufacturer approved supplier programs. Experts from both the auditing and manufacturing viewpoint will share their perspectives on the obstacles and challenges they have encountered and provide tools and tips for creating a sustainable approved supplier program that provides greater protection from food safety and quality risks.


Roger Roeth, EAGLE Certification Group
Melanie Neumann, EVP and General Counsel, Matrix Sciences (Neumann Risk Services)

Make Food Safety & Quality a Reality with SQF Magic Clause 2.4.2. – Risk Assessment

Boost your understanding of risk assessment and how to use various risk assessment models. Discover tools for employing risk assessment methods when developing & implementing SQF Food Safety & Quality management systems onsite, and when implementing the requirements of SQF Code elements.


Goranka Platisa, Food Safety & Quality Consultant & Trainer, PCR Corp

Food Fraud and Adulteration Part II: What’s in Store for The Future?

Join our team of experts for a follow up interactive session on food fraud and adulteration. Discuss and evaluate with your peers new technologies, including AI and Blockchain, as well as policies and procedures that can help mitigate food fraud issues.


Andrew Swift, Director Science Services at Capita, CEO and CEO of Fera Science Ltd (UK Food Environment and Rural Affairs)
Peter Fowler, Senior Counsel for Enforcement, Office of Policy and International Affairs, United States Patent and Trademark Office
Jonathan Lewis, Senior Operations Manager CFSAN, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations
Marie Maguire, Senior Operations Manager CFSAN, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations

The Role of Hygienic Design in Food Safety

Hygienic design plays a critical role in food safety and pathogen control and is covered in the SQF Code. Discover what constitutes good and bad hygienic equipment design and how it links to food safety and FSMA Preventative Controls. Get an overview of GFSI’s approach to support good hygienic design and what lies in store for the future. Take home valuable tips on how to ensure your equipment meets SQF Code and GFSI requirements.

Joe Stout, President, Commercial Food Sanitation

10:30 AM 11:00 AM
Networking Break in the Exhibit Hall
11:00 AM 11:45 AM
Learning Labs

Myth Busters: The Truth Behind Common Misconceptions about the FSMA PC Rule

“I am exempt,” “My Foreign Supplier Program does not need to be in writing,” “I do not need to do environmental monitoring,” “I do not need approved suppliers,” “I am not an FSVP importer so I cannot control foreign suppliers,” “I still have time to comply.” Join industry veteran “Dr. Bob” as he explains the truth behind common misconceptions about FDA’s Preventative Controls for Human Foods rule and shares tools and tips for compliance.

Bob Strong, Senior Food Safety Consultant, SAI Global

Improve Your Audit Score: How to Prevent the Top 10 Audit Non-Conformances

It’s time for your SQF audit. Those words can strike fear even in the most confident sites because it generally means the spotlight is on you, the practitioner and the magnifying glass is coming out. The best way to ease the fear is to be audit-ready at any moment. Would you be ready if an auditor came to your site today? Join this session as veteran consultant, Jeff Chilton, discusses best practices and the reasons for staying audit-ready, all the time.

Jeff Chilton, Vice President of Consulting Services, Alchemy Systems

Practical Root Cause Analysis for Allergen Management

Allergen labeling errors due to inadequate allergen management programs cause the largest number of food recalls in North America and around the world every year. This session will examine the nature of these recalls and the components of the SQF Food Safety management system that may need attention or review to error proof the system and reduce the number of these recalls. Using the Ishikawa or fishbone diagram method as the focus, participants will learn possible causes of the problem and discuss ideas to further focus on corrective actions such as poka-yoke (mistake-proofing or inadvertent-error prevention) to help eliminate product labeling defects due to human errors.

Jennifer McCreary, Technical Manager Training and Education Services, NSF International

Are You Ready? Reinforcing Food Defense Preparedness Skills

A recently terminated employee has adulterated your product. Your computer systems are locked by ransomware. Your plant’s reputation is at risk after a malicious video is circulated. Do you know what to do? In this interactive exercise, you’ll face potential scenarios like these. Share your own experiences, discuss best practices and test your level of food defense preparedness. Take home valuable tips to help prepare you to respond effectively to an intentional adulteration incident.

Cathy M. Crawford, President, HACCP Consulting Group

11:45 AM 1:15 PM
Lunch in The Exhibitor Exchange
1:15 PM 2:15 PM

In the second part of this interactive stakeholder feedback forum, you’ll engage in constructive dialogue with your peers on elements of the current SQF Code and discuss what changes are needed in Edition 9. By sharing your input with your peers and SQFI you’ll play a significant role in helping shape the future of food safety and the SQF Program.


LeAnn Chuboff, Vice President, Technical Affairs, SQFI

2:15 PM 2:45 PM
Networking Break in the Exhibitor Exchange
2:45 PM 3:30 PM
Learning Labs

Best Practices for Allergen Preventive Control Plans

Global regulations and the SQF Code require allergen control plans as preventive controls to protect consumers with food allergies. Join this session to learn industry best practices for allergen management including supplier ingredient and packaging programs, transportation and distribution, allergen storage, processing, labeling and packaging, employee attire, sanitary design of equipment, sanitation validation for shared lines, and adjacent line cleaning.

Tracie G. Sheehan, Vice President, Mérieux NutriSciences

Ramp Up Your Recall Readiness: How to Successfully Navigate a Pathogen Recall

Despite best intentions, you find yourself in a recall situation. Now what? This session will help you navigate through the sequence of events following a recall. Uncover the value of including legal counsel and subject matter experts in your recall team as you conduct a root cause analysis and why this is critical to establishing effective communications with regulatory agencies and responding to FDA’s 483 violations. Discover why a “seek and destroy mission” should be part of a routine environmental investigation during a recall as well as in post-recall programs. Learn how to use your food safety data, whether from environmental monitoring positive sites, audit results or undetected breakdowns in your food safety systems, to identify system failures that could lead to recall situations.

Jeff Lucas, Senior Director of Technical Services, Mérieux NutriSciences
Dave Evanson, Technical Services Consultant, Mérieux NutriSciences

SQF Fundamentals: Mastering Statistical Process Control (SPC) Methods

Gain practical advice on how to demonstrate compliance to the SQF Quality Code using SPC (Statistical Process Control) or other quality system tools. Receive an introduction to basic quality tools and methods, including statistical process control concepts and learn the meaning and interpretation of basic statistical concepts and terms, such as trending, mean, median, range and standard deviation. Discover through case studies how SPC not only meets standard requirements but more importantly, positively impacts your business.

Dr. Kelly Vest, Vice President, HACCP Consulting Group

100+ Ways to Prevent and Control Listeria

The Listeria Control Program (LCP), developed by the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI), is a comprehensive set of best practices that includes over a hundred recommendations for food manufacturers to prevent and control Listeria. the frozen food industry, The LCP is an ambitious effort to advance the science and understanding around Lm prevention, as well as to build knowledge and disseminate and implement best manufacturing practices across the industry. Join AFFI’s food safety experts, Dr. Donna Garren, Executive Vice President of Science and Policy and Dr. Sanjay Gummalla, Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs to learn about the newly released best practice recommendations for Lm prevention and control and discover food safety resources and tools to help ensure you and your suppliers have the best food safety programs in place.


Dr. Donna Garren, Executive Vice President of Science and Policy, American Frozen Food Institute
Dr. Sanjay Gummalla, Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, American Frozen Food Institute

3:45 PM 4:45 PM
Forced Labor and the Impact on Supply Chains: What Retailers and Manufacturers Need to Know

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), 25 million people around the world are trapped in forced labor, a significant percentage of which are associated with manufacturing supply chains. In this eye-opening and compelling keynote, you’ll get an overview of this troubling issue, hear strategies being implemented to address it and learn about food retail and food manufacturer liability and reputation risks. This session will offer proactive monitoring and auditing approaches that will help ensure compliance with the SQF Ethical Sourcing Code and demonstrate how companies can play a pivotal role in responsible sourcing.

Matt Friedman, Chief Executive Officer, The Mekong Group

5:15 PM 6:00 PM
Buses depart to Knibbe Ranch
6:30 PM 10:00 PM
A Taste of Texas at Knibbe Ranch

Grab your cowboy (or cowgirl) boots and hat and join us for a night under the stars at Knibbe Ranch, one of the few remaining Century Heritage Ranches in the State of Texas. You’ll enjoy music, dancing, entertainment, great food and a big ‘ol Texas experience that you’ll be talking about for years to come. Complimentary for SQF Conference registrants. More information coming soon !

Thursday, November 7, 2019

6:30 AM 11:00 AM
7:00 AM 8:00 AM
Breakfast in the Exhibitor Exchange
8:00 AM 9:00 AM
Cannabis Edibles: Understanding the Risks and Regulations

In April 2019, the FDA moved one step closer to developing regulations for foods and beverages infused with CBD, the non-hallucinogenic compound in cannabis. Regulations are already in place in Canada and the Caribbean and, like it or not, cannabis-derived products will soon become mainstream. Regardless of one’s personal stance on the subject, understanding both the regulations and risks of cannabis as a dietary supplement or food ingredient will be essential for current and future certified SQF sites. In this illuminating discussion, a panel of industry experts in cannabis regulations and product/ingredient manufacturing will provide their learnings to date and answer questions from the audience.

Frank Schreurs, Regional Representative, Canada & NW U.S.A., Safe Quality Food Institute
Dejan Spasic, SQF Auditor – Director FSQ, dicentra Global Certifications
James Keyes, Cannabis Q/A, Khiron
Rafael Bombonato, Corporate Quality Control Manager, Curaleaf
Tyler Williams, Vice President of Operations, ASI Food Safety

9:15 AM 10:00 AM
Learning Labs

How to Build Trust with Less Paper

Who doesn’t want less paperwork?! Learn how to minimize paperwork by writing clearly to meet SQF Code requirements. Discover how instead of a utilizing a pragmatic approach to define integrated management systems and articulate company and SQF-compliant methodology, you can write down what you do and earn trust through simple communication.

Cathy M. Crawford, President, HACCP Consulting Group

Do You Know What’s in Your Supply Chain? Using Ingredient Standards to Protect Food Integrity

Complex food supply chains create multiple opportunities to damage the food supply, either intentionally or unintentionally. Ensuring the overall reliability of the food supply system depends on the integration of multiple control and information systems and on accurate communication among these systems. Learn why ingredient standards play an essential role in protecting the integrity and safety of the food supply and how sites can use ingredient standards as part of their supply chain control program.

Steven Gendel, Director, Food Science, Food Chemicals Codex

Food Safety Culture 3.0: Guarding Against “Culture Complacency”

Join us three years into the food safety culture conversation! In Year 1, expert panelists addressed how a strong food safety culture contributes to compliance and audit readiness. Year 2, the conversation focused on how to “measure what you treasure” by instituting meaningful metrics. What does Year 3 have in store? Perhaps the most important conversation yet–a candid discussion about “culture complacency”—when once progressive, strong food safety cultures start to backslide after a few years due to competing priorities or simply a false sense of security. The panelists will share examples of culture complacency and recommended strategies to prevent this phenomenon from occurring in your company.


Melanie Neumann, Founder, NRS; EVP & General Counsel, Matrix Sciences, Neumann Risk Services, LLC a Matrix Sciences Company
Lone Jespersen, PhD., Founder, Principal, Cultivate Food Safety
Matt Henderson, Director, Food Safety, Land O’Frost
Leann Chuboff, Vice President Technical Affairs, SQFI

Keeping the Compliance and Integrity Promise using Analytics

Making audits more meaningful, focused and consistent improves implementation of the SQF Code and experiences on the ground. SQFI is using analytics to improve compliance and integrity across auditors, CBs and sites. Get an overview of analytics work currently in progress and hear about expectations and value creation in 2020.


Daniel Akinmolayan, Database Manager, Safe Quality Food Institute
Jake Lewin, CEO, Intact Systems

10:00 AM 10:30 AM
Networking Break in the Exhibitor Exchange
10:30 AM 11:15 AM
Learning Labs

Communication is For the Birds! Using Personal Communication Styles to Create a Compliance-Conscious Culture

Maintaining standards and certifications requires meaningful teamwork across all disciplines and departments. How do you do that when your company may have become complacent, or grown rapidly, or your ‘team’ is so large that you are compartmentalized? In this helpful session you’ll learn how to identify and understand your personal communication style, how to navigate conflict and why this benefits your role and helps create and maintain a compliance-conscious food safety culture. Discover how to support and encourage communication plans that promote personal ownership, accountability and responsibility at all levels of an organization, drive continuous improvement and create lasting change that is embedded in the company culture.


Betty Murie, Global Compliance Manager, Wedderspoon Organic NZ Ltd
Amy Moore, Principal, The Change Office

Effective Training Tools for Multicultural Employees

Immigrants working in food manufacturing and other food business operations whose primary language is not English, face multiple challenges to effectively comply with what is required from food safety regulatory agencies and other regulatory bodies. This informative session will provide tips and tools for delivering effective food safety training for multicultural staff.

Justo A. Garcia, Health Inspector, City of Minneapolis

Using Internal Audits to Prepare for and Maintain Certification

Using the packaging industry as a case study, this session will provide tools and tips to ensure that your internal audit is a sufficiently rigorous test of your food safety program. Learn how to effectively follow up on corrective actions from previous audits and adequately challenge your food defense plan.

Karen Leacock, Senior Project Manager, NSF International

Leafy Greens: Tools and Tips to Protect Your Consumers and Brands

In response to the romaine lettuce crisis in 2018, FMI has developed a tool for food retailers and wholesalers that aims to prevent the contamination of leafy greens, increase supply chain communication and respond effectively in the event of future incidents. Get an overview of these key recommendations, hear from retailers and suppliers on what best practices they have implemented to protect their customers and discover how the best practices align with the SQF Code.  Join this informative session to hear the latest leafy greens food safety information, get your questions answered by our experts and take away tools and tips to protect your consumers and brand.

Moderator: Hilary S. Thesmar, PhD, RD, CFS – Chief Food & Product Safety Officer and Senior Vice President, Food Safety Programs, Food Marketing Institute
Natalie Dyenson, Vice President, Food Safety and Quality, Dole Food Company
Frank Schreurs, Regional Representative, Canada & NW U.S.A., Safe Quality Food Institute
Sharon Wood, Director, Food Safety, HEB

11:30 AM 12:30 PM
Lessons in Leadership

Carey Lohrenz

Carey Lohrenz, first female F-14 Tomcat Fighter Pilot in the U.S. Navy,

Lohrez, the first female F-14 Tomcat Fighter Pilot in the U.S. Navy will share the fundamentals that helped her win in the cockpit at Mach 2. Her inspirational story will challenge, inform, and inspire you to move to higher levels of performance and provide takeaways that can produce both short-term and life changing results.