2014 SQF International Conference


The SQF Conference offers a robust education program designed to meet the needs of food safety and quality professionals.  In addition to industry-specific sessions, attendees will have the opportunity to attend compelling keynote sessions lead by guest speakers, who will provide fascinating perspectives from the world outside of food safety. Most breakout sessions are repeated, allowing attendees to maximize their education experience. Download the agenda.



8:30 am - 10:00 am Pre-Conference Workshop
Food Safety Modernization Act: What You Need To Know
Erik R. Lieberman, President, U.S. Food Imports LLC
10:15 am - 12:45 pm Pre-Conference Networking Workshop and Lunch
Let's Get This Conference Started!
Izzy Gesell, CSP, Facilitator and Organizational Alchemist
1:00 pm - 1:30 pm Welcome and Opening Remarks
Robert L. Garfield, Senior Vice President, SQFI
Margaret Kolk, Manager, Technical Training, NSF
1:15 pm - 1:45 pm Address by The Mexican Ministry of Agriculture
Strengthening The Relationship Between SQF
and the Mexican Goverment
1:45 pm - 2:45 pm Opening Keynote Session
Never Fly Solo
Lt. Col. (ret.) Rob ‘Waldo’ Waldman - The Wingman
2:45 pm - 3:10 pm Coffee Break
3:10 pm - 4:00 pm General Session
The People Side of Food Safety
Stanley Cherkasky, Managing Director, Comprehensive Food Safety, LLC
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm Keynote Session
Why We Make Mistakes
Joe Hallinan, Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist, Author 
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm Reception and Solutions Showcase
7:00 pm - onwards Dinner on own


7:00 am - 7:45 am Breakfast
7:45 am - 9:00 am Roundtable discussions (by food category)
9:00 am - 9:05 am Transition Break
9:05 am - 10:00 am Keynote Session
Why Ethics Matter
Marianne Jennings, Professor of Legal and Ethical Studies
in Business, W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University
10:00 am - 10:30 am Coffee Break
10:30 am - 12:20 pm Deep Dive Sessions
12:20 pm - 2:00 pm 2014 SQF Quality Awards Luncheon
2:00 pm - 2:55 pm Breakout Sessions A
2:55 pm - 3:05 pm Transition Break
3:05 pm - 4:00 pm Breakout Sessions B
4:00 pm - 4:30 pm Coffee Break
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm Keynote Session
Crossing The Generational Divide
Jason Dorsey, The Gen Y Guy
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm Outdoor Reception (weather permitting)





7:00 am - 8:00 am Idea Exchange Breakfast
8:00 am - 8:55 am Breakout Session A (Repeat)
8:55 am - 9:05 am Transition Break
9:05 am - 10:00 am Breakout Sessions B (Repeat)
10:00 am - 10:25 am Coffee Break
10:25 am - 11:20 am Breakout Sessions C
11:20 am - 11:30 am Transition Break
11:30 am - 12:30 pm Closing Keynote
Assessing and Preventing WMD Threats to the Food Sector
FBI Special Agent, Steffan Nass, WMD Coordinator
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
12:30 pm Conference adjourns (lunch on own)

Session Descriptions

Pre-Conference Workshop
The Food Safety Modernization Act: What You Need to Know

How will the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) impact food business throughout the supply chain? Attend this complimentary  pre-conference workshop to get detailed update on and review of FSMA’s major regulations and learn how they will impact you as a supplier, auditor, certification body or retailer. Discuss strategies for compliance and get answers to your questions from our FSMA expert.

Erik R. Lieberman, President, U.S. Food Imports LLC

Pre-Conference Networking Workshop
Let's Get This Conference Started!

This fast-paced, fun-filled, insightful session will help you network with attendees, find new friends and make the most out of your conference networking and peer-to-peer idea-sharing opportunities. Drawing on influences as diverse as Walt Disney, Margaret Mead, Steven Covey and Improv theatre, this unique workshop is facilitated by Izzy Gesell, an “organizational alchemist”, who uses Improv theatre concepts as tools for personal and organizational learning. Whether you’re a seasoned conference-goer or a first-timer, you’ll benefit from new ways to connect with people you know, learn non-threatening ways to meet people you don’t know and engage in playful activities you’ll be able to use throughout the conference and beyond to more effectively communicate with other people and become more comfortable with change, open to new ideas and less risk adverse. Workshop attendees are invited to stay for lunch to continue the conversation with their new connections!

Izzy Gesell, CSP, Keynote Speaker, Facilitator and Organizational Alchemist

Never Fly Solo

In "Never Fly Solo", former Air Force fighter pilot Rob "Waldo" Waldman applies the lessons he learned during death-defying combat and explains how to transform ordinary relationships into mutually beneficial partnerships. His message is simple: whether achieving greatness as a fighter pilot or in business, the same qualities that drive success apply: disciplined training, dedicated teamwork, impassioned leadership and most of all...unwavering trust. Join this exhilarating session and gain insight into the Wingman philosophy of peak performance, leading with courage, building trusting relationships, and working as a cohesive team to win your organization’s mission. Visit www.yourwingman.com for more details about this program.

Lt. Col. (ret.) Rob ‘Waldo’ Waldman - The Wingman

The People Side of Food Safety

This captivating interactive presentation provides unique insights and a step-by-step approach to improve interpersonal effectiveness in a food safety environment.  It’s about quality—not product or service quality—but rather the quality of communication.  It’s about relationships, making bad relationships good and good relationships better with both internal and external customers.  And it’s about delighting customers, not just satisfying them. Participants will take home a practical, proven behavioral science method they can employ on a daily basis to  improve communications while enhancing their food safety performance. Discover how to identify the four primary behavioral styles, gain insight into your own behavioral style and learn how to modify it to relate to your internal customers and suppliers. Learn how to recognize the behavioral style of your associates and develop an action plan that will improve relationships, teamwork and food safety performance. By participating in this session you’ll be equipped with the tools  you need to apply powerful, research-based techniques that will result in better communication, quality/food safety and productivity improvements, and an overall harmonious work environment.

Stanley Cherkasky, Managing Director, Comprehensive Food Safety, LLC

Why We Make Mistakes

Why do otherwise intelligent people make obvious mistakes? Why are we so easily distracted? Why do we often miss what's right in front of our eyes? Why do we make mistakes? And could we do a little better? Joe Hallinan sets out to explore the captivating science of human error--how we think, see, remember and forget. In  this session, chock full of anecdotes, relevant studies and tips you can use immediately (such as how to remember where you left your keys, and why multi-tasking is a bad idea), Hallinan will  reveal why some of the same qualities that make us efficient also make us error-prone. How to prevent these errors--how to anticipate and then "outsmart" them--are at the heart of this engaging, entertaining and interactive session.

Joe Hallinan, Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist, Author of "Why We Make Mistakes"

Why Ethics Matter

Ethical dilemmas are an occupational hazard in any industry and no less so in the world of food safety, where trust is a fundamental component of the success or failure of a brand or company. Similarly, on a personal level, we face tests of our honesty and integrity on a daily basis. Having a strong sense of personal and professional ethics keeps us mindful of these tests, forces us to follow through on our promises, reminds us the consequences of failing to keep our word and drives us to do the right thing even when no one is looking. This insightful and revealing session will remind us all why ethics matter in the food industry, especially when it comes to protecting the reputation of your brand. Learn the common threads that unite all unethical companies and identify the warning signs of ethical missteps and ways to prevent them from happening in your organization.

Professor Marianne M. Jennings, Emeritus Professor of Legal and Ethical Studies in Business,  W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University

Deep Dive Session:
If You Knew Better, You'd Do Better: The Relationship Between Audit Outcomes and Supplier Compliance

  • Discover the top non-conformances in the SQF Program and how they relate to supplier performance and auditor competency
  • Using actual data collected during SQF audits, identify areas within the SQF system most often associated with recalls and develop strategies to avoid common non-conformances
  • Uncover the biggest global recall trends for 2013 and 2014, how they affected SQF certified suppliers and how they relate to the top non-conformances identified in the SQF Program
  • Review lessons learned from recalls, examine the root cause and discuss solutions for using the SQF code to reduce and prevent recalls and best practices to minimize the impact of a recall, if or when it happens

LeAnn Chuboff, Senior Technical Director, SQFI
Bill McBride, Technical Representative, Australia
Gary Smith, Director, Director of Eurofins Food Safety Systems
Melody Ge, Compliance Specialist, SQFI

Deep Dive Session:
Allergens: A Comprehensive Approach to Implementing Effective Monitoring, Validation and Verification Programs

  • Gain a clear understanding of the difference between allergen verification and validation
  • Discuss industry best practices for completing an effective allergen control program validation
  • Get practical advice on measuring the effectiveness of allergen validation and environmental monitoring programs.
  • Identify key elements of a robust allergen environment monitoring program
  • Strategize methods for continuous improvements
  • Review label verification processes

Dr. Doug Marshall, Chief Scientific Officer, Eurofins Microbiology Laboratories, Inc.
Kristopher Middleton, AuditReady Program Manager, Pest Prevention Business Unit, The Steritech Group
Jeff Chilton, President, Chilton Consulting Group

Deep Dive Session:
Level Three Quality Design Plan and Audit

  • Review the expectations of a level 3, quality plan from the perspective of SQF, the supplier and the buyer
  • Identify the challenges that suppliers and auditors face when implementing a quality program including  frequently missed elements against level 3 and pinpointing and validating the CQPs and QPs in the process
  • Gain a clear understanding of the implementation process - moving from level 2 to level 3 and rethinking what you currently have in place

Kim Onett, Audit Operations Manager, Silliker, Inc.
Martin Fowell, Certification Manager, Silliker, Inc.

Deep Dive Session:Ethical Sourcing and Food Defense

  • Gain insight into the SQFI Ethical Sourcing Standard and how it can help sourcing and supplier organizations whose customers require an independent assessment of their commitment to the implementation of responsible practices related to trading activities, environmental management programs, and social management programs.
  • Get an overview of FDA’s Proposed Rule for Preventing Intentional Adulteration of Food, its current status and next steps. Learn more about FDA food defense tools and resources.

Stephen N. Brown – Senior HSE Consultant, Independent Contractor
Jon Woody – Senior Policy Analyst, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Erik R. Lieberman, President, U.S. Food Imports LLC

Crossing The Generational Divide

We work in a time of unprecedented generational change. Four generations in the workforce. Five generations in the marketplace. Strategies that work for one generation can be complete turn-offs for others. This divide is a costly challenge or breakthrough opportunity, depending entirely how you and your leaders respond. In Crossing the Generational Divide, bestselling author Jason Dorsey exposes new generational truths that directly impact the success or failure of leaders and organizations. He shares surprising data, emerging trends and specific actions that lead to measurable results.

Jason Dorsey, The Gen Y Guy

How Deep Are Your Roots? Root Cause Analysis Methods and Tools

SQF and other GFSI certification programs consider continuous improvement and preventive actions as cornerstones of successfully implemented food safety management programs. Thus, mastering the skill of root cause analysis and thorough corrective and preventive actions is essential in order to obtain and maintain your certification. How in-depth do you go analyzing the problems at your facility? Do you just make the corrections and go on to the next task? Learn why deep root cause analysis is essential to prevent problems from reoccurring and discover why developing a strong root cause analysis culture in your organization will lead to a systemic focus on continuous improvement and a stronger food safety management system. Uncover several successful tools, including the Six Sigma Root Cause Analysis Method, that will help you implement effective root cause analysis processes in your plants.

Anne S. Cooper, Certification Manager, Agri-Food, SAI Global Assurance Services

The Hows and Whys of an Effective Management Review

Management review is one of the few components of the SQF system that has the potential to identify opportunities for cost effective continuous improvement.  Including all key members of the management team in the process will enable direct feedback both upwards and downwards to all areas within the organization.  In this session, participants will evaluate their current management review practices and define, in practical terms, what and who should be included in the management review process. Learn how to effectively record the relevant issues, information, action and conclusions discussed during the review to ensure business improvement and successfully pass the SQF audit.

Clare Winkel, Verification Auditor, BSI incorporating NCS International

SQF Program Management - Don't Be Afraid to Automate!

One of the most difficult challenges of implanting a robust SQF program is overall program management, (including ensuring SOP/GMP/PRP tasks are completed and documented), approved vendor program compliance, version control, and of course audit readiness. Learn how one food processor and distributor successfully leveraged technology to help automate, streamline and improve SQF program management, promote continuous improvement and support audit readiness. This case study will show participants how to identify the key components critical to automation project success and help them benefit from lessons learned during the automation process. Gain perspective on how to address change management relative to adoption of new technologies, discover the impact and benefits of automation on SQF compliance and overall FSQA operations and get the right answers to determine if automation is right for your company.

Robert Butcher, Group Operations Manager, Ipswich Shellfish Company

Creating a Winning Internal Audit Team

Creating a winning internal audit team is one of the keys to maintaining and improving a food safety management system such as SQF. The foundation for such a team is the selection of individuals who possess the qualities and skills to become a strong internal audit team member and the provision of effective classroom and on-the-floor training in addition to ongoing evaluation and calibration of skills and competency. A thorough selection process and training program will result in an internal audit team that is consistent, effective and efficient. Uncover the critical skills and qualities that internal auditors should possess and learn how to identify those individuals who possess such skills. Learn best practices for developing an effective internal audit training program that will drive continuous improvement throughout your entire business and strengthen your food safety management system.

Roger Roeth, SQF Auditor, Chief Operation Officer, EAGLE Certification Group

Don't Make Excuses! Understanding the Difference Between Use and Abuse of Alternate Controls

Section of Module 2 in the SQF Code allows suppliers to use a risk analysis to justify how they might ensure safety and quality through control measures that may be different or even absent as compared to those stated in the latter modules of the Code. Over-simplification of can lead to audit failure and more significantly, safety and quality systems that may fail, whereas over-complication leads to unfinished, poorly communicated or misunderstood risk assessments. This session will clarify the difference between exemptions, exclusions and alternate controls and provide examples of scenarios where alternate controls are appropriate and effectively used. Participants will also learn a simple method of conducting and documenting a risk assessment to demonstrate the effectiveness of alternate controls and justify their usage.

Cathy Crawford, SQF and HACCP Consultant, EAGLE Food Registrations Inc.

From Theory to ROI: Reinforcement Techniques for Operational Excellence

To achieve a true food safety culture, employee behavior must be aligned with organizational food safety goals and protocols. Employee observations and continued coaching is a precursor to positive behavioral change when accomplished through constructive reinforcement from the supervisor. As the industry moves from education to application on the plant floor, the focus on adult behavior becomes increasingly fundamental to a plant’s safety and the company’s bottom line. This interactive session will explore applied behavioral science through real world scenarios and audience participation, combining live audience feedback with discussion of best practices with industry experts. Discover how to leverage technologies and behavioral science to reinforce employee behavior post-training, promote operational excellence and sustain ROI. Learn how to differentiate between positive and negative reinforcement techniques of coaching and observation between employee and supervisor and construct proven employee coaching plans that act as a leading indicator of where you stand in your food safety plan. By attending this session, participants will take away demonstrated techniques to promote behavioral change and drive a food safety culture in their plant.

Melody Magallanez, Learning Leader II, Keurig Green Mountain
Laura Dunn Nelson, Vice President, Technical Services and Business Development, Alchemy Systems (Moderator)
Kim Onett, Audit Operations Manager, Silliker


Going Beyond Recall: Leveraging Traceability as a Business Improvement Tool

Product traceability is a mandatory element under SQF Code Module 2. While companies often only associate traceability with food safety and facilitating recalls, it has the potential to increase profits by streamlining other processes within their facility. Meanwhile, for many consumers, the knowledge that food is safely sourced and traceable is key to building and maintaining their trust in the retailer/producer. Gain insight on how to enhance an existing paper-based system, not only to conform to the requirements of the SQF Code, but also to gain competitive advantage and improve the bottom line.  Using real life case studies, participants will examine best practice methods that have been successfully implemented by other processing facilities, learn how to assess their current system by means of a Traceability Self-Assessment Tool and identify methods to improve processes that will result in added value through reduced costs, improved profit margins and increased market potential.

Jennifer McCreary, Technical Manager, Training Services, NSF-GFTC

Using KPIs to Conquer Lack of Management Commitment

Management buy-in is an integral part of a successful and effective SQF implementation and continuous improvement plan. By comparing examples of successful and less-than-successful implementation, participants will be able to compare the effects of management buy-in, or lack thereof on SQF implementation. Explore effective methods to achieve management buy-in from the outset and discuss the return on investment, identifying the cost of quality data and management inclusion.

Lori Coleman, Consultant, Matthew Poore Leadership Group, Inc.
Matthew Poore, Owner, Consultant, Matthew Poore Leadership Group, Inc.

Do You Do What You Say You Do? Assessing and Fostering Organizational Food Safety Culture

How does your company measure up vis-à-vis the food safety culture you commit to publically versus the perceived culture within your plant and store walls? This interactive session will examine and discuss how a retailer or supplier can assess their present food safety culture by comparing their goals and objectives in the public domain to actual employee perception of food safety on the job. Discuss best practices for providing an environment that will nurture a culture of food safety. Learn which company attributes will promote an engaged workforce that understand its responsibility to keep food safe and the types of internal and external influences that can potentially diminish this goal. Drawing upon the knowledge gleaned in this session, participants will take home an appreciation of what it takes to foster a culture of continuous improvement in food safety and be equipped to analyze their current food safety culture and provide management with recommendations for improvements.

Ron Vail, Senior Director, Global Certification Services, AIB International

Sanitation Matters! The Chemistry of Cleaning For The Non-Chemist

An improperly managed or poorly implemented sanitation program leads to product recalls, production down-time, cost increases, lost sales, equipment damage, environmental costs and increased government intervention. Maintaining sound sanitation practices will not only prevent pathogens from entering the food supply, but also preserve product shelf-life, ensure food quality and taste and control sanitation, environmental and waste water treatment costs. But you don’t need to be a chemist to implement an effective sanitation program. You just need to understand the principles of sound sanitation practices and the correct method of implementing them. Learn how to identify the types of soils found in the factory environment / equipment, discover how water can both aid and impede the cleaning process, get advice on the effective use of sanitizing chemicals  and take home valuable cleaning techniques, including those that aid in the removal of biofilms.

Timothy Lombardo, Lead Staff Scientist - Food Microbiology and Food Safety Consulting, Covance
Dr. Tatiana Lorc
a, Sr. Manager, Food Safety Education and Training, Ecolab Inc

Demystifying Unannounced Audits

SQFI’s unannounced audit protocol, implemented in July 2014, requires that within three certification cycles a Certification Body must conduct one unannounced recertification audit.   SQF is the first GFSI benchmarked standard to require an  unannounced recertification audit for their suppliers. Join this informative discussion to discover the rationale behind the decision to implement this policy and gain insight into  what is expected of SQF suppliers and auditors when conducting unannounced audits. Participants will also be privy to the results of  previously conducted unannounced audits and have the opportunity to quiz SQF technical staff and a certification body representative on policy and implementation issues.

LeAnn Chuboff, Senior Technical Director, SQFI

Experience from the Trenches: Leveraging Your Training Programs to Ensure 24/7 Audit Readiness

Learn from a food safety veteran in the food manufacturing industry how audit readiness 24/7 can be achieved by educating employees on their key accountabilities within a food safety and quality program.  Holly Mockus shares her experience of achieving and maintaining SQF Level 3 certification from the view point of a consumer package goods manufacturer as well as an ingredient supplier through the development of robust training programs that distributed the responsibilities for food safety and quality  to each employee.

Holly Mockus, Product Manager, Alchemy Systems

Assessing and Preventing WMD Threats to the Food Sector

Get an overview of current WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) threats to the food sector, including those posed by international and domestic terrorist organizations, and gain perspective on the need to consider food defense when designing and implementing food safety practices.

FBI Special Agent Steffan Nass, Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordinator,  Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Springfield, Illinois Division

Breakfast Idea Exchange

Join fellow food safety professionals in a peer-driven informal discussion about today’s top food safety topics. Taking place over a casual continental breakfast, this 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.  Attendees not wishing to participate will  be able to enjoy a quiet breakfast at dedicated non-discussion tables.

SQFI Quality Achievement Awards Luncheon

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. Join us at a special luncheon to honor these individuals and companies.

Reception and Solutions Showcase

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. In addition to the dedicated exhibit hours during the Tuesday evening reception, the Solutions Showcase, which is located in the foyer outside of the general and breakout session rooms, will be open throughout the entire conference. The cocktail reception features an open bar and light hors d'oeuvres.

Roundtable Discussions

Join fellow food safety professionals to discuss issues relevant to your food sector category. These sector-specific discussion roundtables will be led by experts and will give you the opportunity to ask questions and share best practices with  your peers. Please select the food category (ies) that most closely represent your company when you register.

The final number and type of food sector categories covered will be determined based on attendee profiles but are curently expected to include the following (subject to change):

  • Produce- FSC 3, 4 and 14
  • Dairy- FSC 10
  • Beverage – FSC 16
  • Bakery- FSC 13
  • Canning – FSC 15
  • Meat and Poultry and Egg- FSC 1, 7, 8, 12
  • Food Ingredient Manufacturer--  FSC 19
  • Recipe Meals Manufacturer- FSC 20
  • Cereal Grains and Nuts- FSC 22
  • Packaging – FSC 27
  • Distribution- FSC 25, 26
  • Confectionery Manufacturing - FSC 17
  • Seafood - FSC 6,9
  • Manufacture, Growing and Harvesting of Animal Feed and Pet Food - FSC 2,34
  • Oils, Fats and Spreads - FSC 21
  • Food Retail - FSC 24
  • SQF Non Sector-Specific General Discussion