November 22, 2017
The 2017 SQF International Conference opened with a bang! With a record attendance of 862, the next few days were an engaging experience that sharpened skills and gave the attendees tools and resources needed to implement, maintain and strengthen their food safety and quality systems.
Robert Garfield, Chief Food Safety Assessment Officer& Senior VP for SQFI kicked off the conference with encouraging words for the audience and announced the ten 2017 FMI Foundation Scholarship and Travel Grant winners and the 2017 SQFI Auditor of the Year award winner. Rocio Salgado from AIB International won the well deserved 2017 SQFI Auditor of the Year award. Eva Lauve from Stemilt Growers, LLC was awarded the 2017 SQFI Distinguished Service Award, an award that is given to an individual for their countless hours of dedication and hard work in the food safety industry.
Walter Bond delivered an emotional opening keynote session that set the stage for the conference with the passionate deliverance of his life story, woven with key takeaways about thinking, executing and winning in both your personal and professional worlds. He spoke to the audience about changing your mindset and that success is a team sport.
The afternoon was spent with peers gathered at the FSC Roundtables, learning about food fraud and vulnerability and Ethics, Intuition and Reasonable Suspicion when it comes to violence or the contamination of food in the workplace. Dr. John Spink and Rod Wheeler gave compelling presentations and examples that resonated with the audience.
Attendees ended the day with a fun a lively happy hour sponsored by Tri Air Testing!
Day 2 of the SQF International Conference had been well anticipated for many months. The conference opened with the announcement of the 2017 SQFI Practitioner of the Year Award and the Pulitzer-Prize-winning New York Times Business Reporter, Charles Duhigg, and his fascinating keynote on the Power of Habit. Duhigg enlightened the audience with scientific research and real-life examples of how habits form, manage our lives and influence everything we do. Changing habits and discussing how the food safety and quality industry need to understanding them was explored by the expert panel discussion that followed Duhigg’s presentation.
The meat of Wednesday’s agenda was seasoned with breakout sessions and workshops that ranged from topics on best practices of allergen labeling management to having hard conversations about culture change, to the SQFI’s new assessment database, to understanding and trusting your gut instincts.
The day closed out with the well-anticipated SQF Town Hall general session, where SQFI’s Vice President of Technical Affairs, LeAnn Chuboff, presented on the technical and business developments SQFI has rolled out in 2017, as well as plans and goals for SQFI in the future. The session was mainly dedicated to explanations and questions surrounded by the launch of the SQF Code Edition 8 and implementing it, and keeping current with global regulatory processes.
The day closed out after an extremely fun social event where attendees put on their party hats and enjoyed old school arcade games, karaoke, and dancing while sipping on refreshing and relaxing cocktails. The event was generously sponsored by EAGLE Certification Group who won the best-dressed contests with their tide-eye t-shirts. Thanks to everyone that participated!
The final day of the SQF Conference started with a live broadcast of the webinar series put on by 3M and Neumann Risk Services, LLC about the link between food safety culture and audit preparedness. Attendees then split up into breakout sessions that included topics such as complying with FDA’s Sanitary Transport Rule, using environmental pathogen surveillance to prevent foodborne illness, and a brand owners journey implementing and using SQFI’s Ethical Sourcing standard. The conference closing keynote was given by Chipotle’s William Espey on the very important and relevant topic of maintaining brand integrity through a crisis.
As I sat and listened to William speak, his messages resonated and rang true to me. As the brand manager for SQFI and the SQF Conference, I looked around the crowded room of my engaged stakeholders and wondered how they perceived the SQFI and the SQF Conference brand. I reflected on all the hard work and long exhausting hours it took so many to put on the SQF International Conference and make it a huge success. One of many inspiring lines William said really stuck with me. He said “Be true to who you are as a brand. Be something to someone…not everything to no one.” At SQFI we are truly focused on delivering the safest and highest quality products to buyers and consumers. I want to sincerely Thank everyone that attended the 2017 SQF International Conference, the generous sponsors and exhibitors, and the dedicated SQF Conference planning committee and FMI/SQFI Staff for delivering a fantastic conference!
Don’t forget to Save the Date for the 2018 SQF International Conference, October 23-25th…we’ll see you next year in Atlanta.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
—-John Quincy Adams