2012 SQF International Conference


Schedule  SQFI Quality Achievement Awards Solutions Showcase Idea Exchange Sessions "Ask-The Expert"


Download the attendee pre-conference checklist (FAQs)
Download the Idea Exchange Sessions Questions
Download the conference brochure
Full Session Descriptions
Download the full agenda with session descriptions

*Tentative. Subject to Change (Last updated October 12).

Tuesday, November 6

8:30 am – 5:00 pm Training Classes (additional fees apply)

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Election Night Reception and Solutions Showcase
sponsored by Alchemy Systems

Gather with friends and potential business partners to find a wealth of new tools, technologies and solutions to kick start or improve your food safety plan. To celebrate Election Day there will be drink specials, live election coverage and a special opportunity to have your picture taken with the candidates in The Oval Office! FREE to all registered conference attendees.

Wednesday, November 7

7:00 am – 7:50 am Continental Breakfast
sponsored by ANSI
7:50 am – 8:15 am Welcome and Introduction
Robert Garfield, Senior Vice President, SQF Institute
Leslie Sarasin, Esq., CAE, President and Chief Executive Officer, Food Marketing Institute
Dave Dillon, CEO, The Kroger Company
8:15 am – 9:15 am Keynote Presentation - Leadership at The Edge
Dr. Dennis Perkins, Author of “Leadership at The Edge”
9:15 am – 9:30 am Networking Break
9:30 am – 10:30 am Third Party Certification Programs - Opportunities and Challenges in Food
Safety Regulation

Dr. David Acheson, Managing Director, Leavitt Partners

10:30 am – 10:45 am

Networking Break
sponsored by Diversey Consulting

10:45 am – 11:30 am Breakout Sessions
11:30 am – 11:45 am Networking Break
11:45 am - 12:30 pm Breakout Sessions
12:30 pm – 1:45 pm Lunch
Guest Speaker: Cathy Polley, FMI Foundation
Sponsored by Randolph Associates
1:45 pm – 2:45 pm Breakout Sessions (2)
2:45 pm – 3:00 pm Networking Break
sponsored by ASI Food Safety Consultants
3:00 pm – 3:45 pm Breakout Sessions (2)
3:45 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Networking Break
sponsored by ASI Food Safety Consultants
4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Keynote Presentation - Odditude: If I'm Odd, Does That Make Us Even?
John Powers, Emmy Award Winner and Best-Selling Author of "Odditude"
5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Solutions Showcase and Cocktail Reception
Sponsored by SGS



Thursday, November 8

7:00 am – 8:00 am Continental Breakfast
sponsored by Food Safety Net Services
8:00 am – 9:00 am Update on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
Gary K. Kushner,  Partner and Practice Area Leader, Food and Agriculture, Hogan Lovell U.S. LLP
9:00 am – 9:15 am Networking Break
9:15 am – 10:15 am Customer  Complaints at The Retail Level
Gillian Kelleher, Vice President, Food Safety and Quality Assurance, Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.
10:15 am – 10:30 am Networking Break
sponsored by Diversey Consulting
10:30 am – 11:15 am Breakout Sessions
11:15 am – 11:30 am Networking Break
11:30 am – 12:15 pm Breakout Sessions
12:15 pm – 1:45 pm

2012 SQF Quality Awards Luncheon
Sponsored by GFTC
Awards sponsored by RABQSA

1:45 pm – 2:45 pm Idea Exchange Roundtables
2:45 pm – 3:00 pm Networking Break

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Keynote Speaker: Last Man Down: A Fireman's Story
Richard Picciotto, FDNY Chief, Highest Ranking Firefighter to Survive the World Trade Center Collapse and Author of “Last Man Down



The SQF Quality Achievement Awards Program recognizes the outstanding commitment, support and performance of individuals and organizations who contribute to endorsing and improving the SQFI program and mission around the globe.  Help recognize the achievements of these outstanding individuals or companies by nominating them for this prestigious award.

Nomination submissions no longer accepted after Monday, October 1st, US.

Award Categories

  • SQFI Certification Body of the Year
  • SQFI Training Center of the Year
  • SQFI Manufacturer of the Year (gross sales more than 5 million annually)
  • SQFI Outstanding Achievement Award

Award finalists will be notified via email in October.

Click here to see what achieving this award meant to one of last year's winners



Leadership at The Edge: The Schackleton Saga

Dennis Perkins - Chief Executive Officer, The Syncretics Group   

The extraordinary saga of legendary Antarctic explorer, Ernest Shackleton, who together with his 27-man crew, endured 634 days of unimaginable hardships as their expedition to cross the Antarctic continent in 1914 was beset by disaster, is an amazing account of triumph in the face of adversity. Shackleton’s story provides riveting examples of the extraordinary difference that strong leadership and teamwork can make under conditions of adversity, uncertainty and change. It illustrates how the strategies that have been used by leaders and teams at the limits of physical survival can be applied in any challenging business environment and serves as a powerful metaphor that inspires resilience and persistence in tough times. Listen and be inspired to apply Shackleton’s leadership approach in your own lives and raise the level of unity and commitment in your business teams.

Third Party Certification Programs - Opportunities and Challenges in Food Safety Regulation

David W.K Acheson - Partner and Managing Director, Food and Import Safety Practice, Leavitt Partners   

Provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act suggest that third party certification will likely play a critical role in improving the safety of our food both on a domestic and international level. Learn from one of the world’s leading experts on food safety, and former Associate Commissioner for Foods at FDA how the federal government approaches the use of third party certifiers within the context of FSMA and how the private sector will need to comply with new laws and regulations. Gain insight into the role that third party certifiers play in the supply chain control solutions and what opportunities and challenges this role poses.

Business Continuity: Common Sense Preparation

Jeffrey Strout - Auditor, Educator and Consultant, Silliker, Inc.
Are you prepared for a major interruption of your business operations? Get tips to help you identify how and why disruptions occur and take home practical guidance on developing an effective business continuity plan that meets stakeholder (regulator, GFSI, customer) compliance. Discover a common sense approach to business continuity that addresses local authority response (Incident Command Structure) and learn how to structure crisis management teams to ensure your company possesses the right risk communication strategies that leverage local response collaboration. You’ll leave this session equipped with the tools and methods you need for effective risk communication and message development with both internal and external audiences.

Creating and Maintaining Effective Allergen Control Plans: A Practical Guide

Tracie Sheehan – Vice President, Food Safety & Quality Assurance, ARYZTA AG   

Reduce risk to your customer and brand by creating and maintaining effective allergen control plans. This practical guide introduces you to the fundamentals of labeling, raw material storage and managing movement of allergens in the facility. Gain insight into the background of the “visually clean” standard for allergen management and discover how planning and conducting allergen validation testing and understanding allergen thresholds can be effective tools in consumer and brand protection.

Managing Your Suppliers with an Effective Approval Program

Cathy M. Crawford - Vice President, The HACCP Consulting Group, LLC  
A finished food product can be compared to a tapestry of complex components intricately interwoven by a blend of employees, contractors and equipment.  Just as one loose thread can unravel a tapestry, a supplier error can lead to food safety risks and recalls and cause ‘RIPS in the SEAM.’ Remembering this analogy helps ensure the inclusion of all elements of a supplier approval program, one that addresses the Raw Materials, Ingredients, Packaging and Services (RIPS) and ensures methods for Selection, Evaluation, Approval and Monitoring (SEAM).  Get practical guidance on how to set up a risk-based supplier approval program and leverage it to demonstrate continuous improvement.  Learn how an examination of the relationships between Supplier Approval Programs, HACCP plans and sound business practices will demonstrate the value of such programs and encourage stronger commitment to supply chain management.

SQF Small Business Case Study

Tammy Robichaud - Quality and R&D Manager, Sun-Rype Products Ltd.   

As a small manufacturing company, Sun-Rype Products Ltd was challenged with determining the best way to implement sustainable quality and food safety management systems without incurring incremental financial and personnel resources. Get an overview of how Sun-Rype achieved SQF certification by creating a vision, developing an efficient time-focused project plan and sustaining tremendous focus from the entire operations team to meet deadlines and be prepared for audits. Learn how their approach to maintaining SQF 2000 certification requires ongoing focus to keep programs and documentation current and accurate and get some valuable and practical tips to help your facility achieve certification and continuously improve your systems.

Evolution Not Revolution - Behavioral Changes Impacting Your Food Safety Culture

Woody Barrett - Quality Assurance Manager, Del Monaco Specialty Foods
Robert Meyer - CEO, Breakthrough Consulting Services

To achieve a true food safety culture, employee behavior must align with food safety goals.  This requires confirmation that employees understand the training material and validation that they demonstrate the desired behaviors and procedures that mitigate food safety risks. Learn how Del Monaco Specialty Foods, while currently pursuing SQF certification, is participating in a behavior validation program that supports their food safety culture by incorporating remediation training.  Discover how, by identifying desirable employee behaviors/procedures, indicating key training parameters, deploying specific, effective training focused on these desirable behaviors/procedures and then validating such behaviors onsite, companies can effectively measure employee behavior change and successfully achieve a food safety culture.

Improving Your Food Safety and Quality Manual

Cathy M. Crawford - Vice President , The HACCP Consulting Group, LLC   

Get practical advice and tips on how to develop an effective food safety and quality manual and/or improve existing materials. Discover how to select words and phrases that add strength and clarity while avoiding unnecessary language. Review common errors that lead to misunderstandings and examine several formats for Standard Operating procedures (SOPs). Learn why “manual” doesn’t always mean “binder” and how SOPs can have negative as well as positive consequences. Attending this session will help you communicate your commitment to food safety through documented systems of deliberate control over risk.

Top 10 Non-Conformances of an SQF Audit and How to Avoid Them

Gary Smith - Vice President of Certification and Supply Chain Solutions, Steritech   

This session will help you identify the most typical challenges encountered during implementation of the SQF standard in the past year. Understand the root causes of the most common non-conformances during desk and facility audits at level two and three certification and get practical tips on how to avoid them.

Customer Complaints at the Retail Level

Gillian Kelleher  - Vice President of Food Safety & Quality Assurance, Wegmans Food Markets

At Wegmans Food Markets, the Consumer Affairs department handles over 100,000 customer communications every year. This department not only serves as the 'voice of the customer' for the entire company, but also houses media, public and community relations and the food safety and quality assurance team.  Learn how Wegmans responds to and manages customer complaints, questions and compliments and how this correlates with SQF 2000 requirements.

Food Packaging Safety: What Has Your Supplier Done For You Lately?

Forrest L. Bayer - Fellow, Packaging, Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, The Coca-Cola Company   
Ralph A. Simmons - Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Packaging is necessary in all sectors of the food industry and packaging safety is integral to SQF2000 Level II and Level III certifications. For many food processors and retailers, verifying the safety of packaging materials poses a challenge that is quite unlike that of food ingredients and food products.  This session will provide an overview of how food packaging safety is regulated in the U.S., how the packaging industry complies with and, in many cases exceeds, regulatory requirements to ensure product safety, and will teach you how to determine if the documents provided by suppliers constitute an adequate product safety assurance.

Traceability: What Works and What Doesn't?

Robert Strong - VP, Quality Management Systems, Steritech   

FSMA and FSIS require food processors to have the ability to trace food products “one step forward and one step back” in the supply chain. Join your food safety peers in a discussion on challenges and solutions in the realm of traceability. Get expert opinion on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to tracing ingredients and products and which traceability methods offer more practical and effective solutions that are less complex and paperwork-intensive. Learn how successful traceability solutions can help remove products from the marketplace more quickly and with less exposure in the event of a recall. Be part of this valuable discussion and share your traceability successes and challenges with your peers.

Verification and Validation: Why Is This So Hard?

Roger Roeth - General Manager/Auditor, EAGLE Food Registrations Inc.   

Both suppliers and auditors struggle to understand how to verify and validate their HACCP and pre-requisite programs.  Join this session to learn how to distinguish the difference between the two and get guidance on how to develop validation and verification methods for your own operations.  Learn how to identify which records are required to substantiate that these programs have been accurately verified and validated. With the help of real life HACCP and pre-requisite program examples you’ll leave with the appropriate skills to confidently educate management staff on the importance of proper validation and verification.     

Case Study: Small Business, Big Thinking

Shannon W. Fickett - Director of Quality Assurance, Jasper Wyman & Son 
Discover how to embrace SQF certification as a prime opportunity to think bigger rather than view it as an added requirement to be met with an audit-and-correct approach. Understand how to leverage certification to integrate people and processes to make your company more competitive and profitable.  During this case study, you’ll learn firsthand from one small business how to avoid the common pitfalls that present obstacles to many smaller companies attempting to achieve SQF certification, where to begin in the implementation process, how to segregate roles and responsibilities based on your unique organizational structure and how to monitor your implementation progress.

Making Practical Sense of Food Defense

Jeffrey Strout - Auditor, Educator and Consultant, Silliker, Inc   

Get a practical review of the laws, regulatory guidance, GFSI requirements and industry best practices that will enable you to build and implement practical, effective and economical strategies to protect the food chain from intentional contamination.  Get equipped with tools that can help evaluate facility food defense programs and ensure effective corrective actions are utilized to remain compliant with regulatory, GFSI and customer requirements.

Using Critical Thinking to Prevent HACCP Failures

Amanda Evans - Food Safety Compliance Specialist, Salamanda Food / HACCP Mentor
What is critical thinking and how can it be applied to the management of food safety within a food business? Discover why critical thinking requires you to look beyond the “obvious” and how it can be applied it to three core areas, namely complaint investigations, root cause analysis and hazard identification and assessment. Understand how implementation of critical thinking can elevate your food business beyond basic compliance to achieving an exceptional level of business improvement, innovation and growth

Last Man Down - A Fireman's Story

Richard Picciotto   - Author of “Last Man Down”
Firefighter and inspirational speaker Richard Picciotto was the FDNY Battalion Commander on September 11, 2001. In the midst of a mission to rescue those inside the World Trade Center, he found himself trapped in the smoldering rubble of the North Tower after its collapse. Buried for more than four hours, he emerged almost unscathed and was the highest-ranking firefighter to survive the collapse. Picciotto's gripping, first-person account of the tragic events that day will inspire and move you, renew your sense of personal values, teach you how to achieve optimal teamwork and demonstrate the vital risk management, leadership and decision-making skills you need to tackle any crisis. Chief Picciotto testified in front of the 9/11 Commission and has appeared on many major networks, including CNN, the History Channel, and National Geographic. His book, Last Man Down, chronicles his harrowing experience on 9/11, and has become a New York Times best-seller.

Identification and Verification of Prerequisite Programs

Gordon Hayburn, Agri-Food Technical Director at SAI Global

The use of PRPs is an integral part of any Food Safety Management System, yet evidence suggests that they are not always audited to the required depth. Given their essential role in the fundamentals of food safety, it is essential that PRPs are effectively implemented and that performance is challenged during both internal and third party audits. Join this informative session to gain insight on the significance and importance of effective PRP implementation. Learn how to identify activities commonly regarded as PRPs and get expert advice on how to thoroughly challenge them during audit.

Making Sense of the Data: Business Intelligence and Reporting in Enterprise Compliance Management Systems

Morgan Palmer - Chief Technology Officer, EtQ, Inc  

A key driver in the success of quality and compliance systems is the ability to leverage data to make informed business decisions.  Gain insight into how enterprise reporting enables organizations to roll-up quality and compliance data to draw correlations between processes thus enhancing visibility and decision making. Discover how effective centralized reporting enables broader analyses and more robust reports, improves data visibility to help uncover trends and commonalities, facilitates clearer identification of risks and helps foster change.

If I'm Odd, Does That Make Us Even?

John Powers - Emmy Award Winner and Best-Selling Author of "Odditude"

Each of us is a once-in-a-universe happening waiting to be discovered. Great leaders, sales people, team players, communicators and thinkers know this. Discover how you too can learn to recognize and celebrate the unique talents of each colleague, client, and member of the community.

Ethical Sourcing

Albert “Skip” Greenaway – President/CEO, EAGLE Registrations Inc.
Stephen Brown – Lead Auditor, EAGLE Registrations, Inc.

Companies are increasingly requiring higher standards in the environmental and social practices of their supply chain partners and are factoring ethical sourcing considerations into their purchasing decisions.  This session will explore the etiology of the SQFI Ethical Sourcing Code, the benefits of code implementation and activities underway to strengthen the methodology and value of the code.  

Update on the Food Safety Modernization Act

Gary K. Kushner, Partner and Practice Area Leader, Food and Agriculture, Hogan Lovell U.S. LLP

Get an update on the Food Safety Modernization Act, pending FDA regulations and initiatives relative to its implementation with focus on the impact on food manufacturers and producers. Special attention will be paid to the increasingly important role of third party audits in ensuring compliance with applicable rules.

Update on the Reliance Database System: What’s New, What’s Next?

John Schulz - Senior Director, Business Operations, SQFI
Megan Berlepsch – Administrator, SQFI
Morgan Palmer, Chief Technology Officer, EtQ, Inc.

Get an update on the progress being made by SQF to address critical and high priority issues related to the implementation of the Reliance database system and discover what lies in store in the future for SQF’s powerful audit management and data capture solution.

Instructional Design 101: The Basics of Course Design

Ryan Moore, Product Manager, Alchemy Systems

If one of the many hats you wear in your job is trainer and/or training developer, this basic session on how to efficiently and effectively develop training programs might be for you. In this course you will learn how to use the ADDIE model for instructional design to help you to plan and develop training programs that are targeted to both your employees and the needs of your business.







Gather with friends and potential business partners at the Solutions Showcase on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. to find a wealth of new tools, technologies and solutions to get started with or improve your current food safety plan. FREE to all conference attendees.

Participating Companies:

  • AIB
  • Alchemy
  • ANSI
  • ASI
  • Dex-O-Tex (CPC)
  • DNV
  • Eagle Registrations
  • EtQ
  • Eurofins Scientific
  • Food Safety and Quality Systems
  • GFTC
  • Intertek
  • NCSI Americas
  • NSF
  • Perry Johnson Registrars
  • Polar Clean
  • Q Laboratories
  • Randolph Assoc.
  • Safefood 360
  • SAI Global
  • SGS
  • Silliker
  • Steritech
  • TÜV America


This is your opportunity to meet face-to-face with SQF experts who can answer your questions on SQF implementation and food safety challenges and provide you with actionable ideas that will positively impact your food safety programs and policies. Appointments are available on Wednesday and Thursday with select food safety solution suppliers and are complimentary to all attendees.

Participating Companies

  • TÜV America
  • SGS
  • Food Safety and Quality Systems
  • Safe Quality Food Institute (Reliance)


Join fellow food safety professionals in a peer-driven informal discussion about today’s top food safety topics. This one-hour session will give you an opportunity to reflect on and share what you’ve learned at the conference, exchange best practice ideas and take home actionable solutions to your toughest food safety challenges.

Download the list of topics and discussion questions