2017 SQF International Conference


Schedule | CE Credits | Program Details | Speakers | Speaker Resources | Awards | Attendee Info

The SQF Conference offers a robust education program designed to meet the needs of food safety and quality professionals in the manufacturing, retail and third party certification industry. In addition to industry-specific breakout sessions and workshops, attendees will have the opportunity to hear compelling keynotes by guest speakers and participate in idea exchanges.


SQF Professional Re-Registration

Full participation in the SQF International Conference meets the 15 hour continuing professional development requirements for re-registration as an SQF professional (SQF Auditor, Trainer or Consultant). In addition, participation in the pre-conference SQF Professional Update (separate fee required) may be used as an alternative to the SQF Professional Update webinar.

Certified Food Scientist

This program qualifies for Certified Food Scientist (CFS) renewal contact hours (CH).  CFS Certificants may claim a maximum of 16.25 CH for their participation in this program.  For more information, please visit ift.org/certification or email ifscc@ift.org.

National Environmental Health Association (NEHA)

The National Environmental Health Association has approved the education program at the SQF International Conference for 16.5 contact hours of continuing education credit. The approved courses have an expiration date of one year from the date the course is offered. Attendance must be verified by a member of the FMI/SQFI staff by signing the Continuing Education Attendance Form, which can be downloaded here. The form serves as proof of attendance and should be retained for your records. In the event you are audited by NEHA, you will need to provide a copy of this form as proof of participation.

To receive continuing education credit with NEHA, individuals can complete their submission online at www.neha.org/CEweb/CE.asp. To log in to the NEHA CE page, enter your last name and NEHA Credential ID number. Those that do not hold a NEHA credential would need to submit the CE Attendance Form with all the requested information completed and the appropriate processing and maintenance fee.



All Buts Stink: There Are No Excuses for Success

Walter Bond, Peak Performance Expert and Former NBA Player for the Dallas Mavericks | Bio

It’s the economy. It’s because of my boss. It’s politics. Regardless of what you choose, excuses are the kryptonite keeping you from achieving greatness. Peak Performers don’t have excuses; they have reasons to succeed.  They deliver results. And instead of saying but, they ask how. It is time to silence the noise, ignore the distractions, and get back to fundamentals.  When you do, the ladder to success will feel like an escalator. Hop on!

Uncover the hidden excuses that trip us up in our trek to be better and discover how to:

  • Emulate the daily habits of high performance people
  • Adopt an attitude that gives you altitude
  • Eradicate excuses and embrace initiative

Food Fraud: Prevention, Detection, Mitigation

John Spink, PhD, Director, Food Fraud Initiative, Michigan State University | Bio
Anne S. Cooper, Food Technical Manager, Eagle Certification Group | Bio

A new prerequisite in Edition 8 of the SQF Code requires suppliers to document, implement and maintain a food fraud vulnerability assessment and mitigation plan.  Led by a renowned research and teaching expert on food fraud from the Michigan State University’s Food Fraud Initiative, this session will provide you with resources you need to comply with SQF, FSMA and GFSI requirements and standards. Take home practical tips on how to start and maintain a food fraud program, proactively reduce the likelihood of food fraud in your facility and assess your vulnerability. And find out what resources are available at the Food Fraud Initiative to assist the industry in preventing and detecting food fraud.

Ethics, Intuition and Reasonable Suspicion

Rod Wheeler, CEO, The Global Food Defense Institute, Senior Law Enforcement Contributor/Crime Analyst, Fox News Channel | Bio

You’ve been charged with conducting an investigative inquiry at your plant or store. Would you know if someone is telling the truth and disclosing all the facts? Led by renowned Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Expert, Rod Wheeler, this session will prepare you to effectively conduct an independent, objective and ethical inquiry to uncover the absolute truth. Learn how to use the most efficient and effective interviewing skills and techniques and be “objectionably curious.” Take home tips for seeking, examining and exploring completeness of information in your role within the food, agricultural and retail sectors with an eye on quality, professionalism and thoroughness.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Charles Duhigg, Award-Winning New York Times Business Reporter | Bio

In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Duhigg explains why the most powerful habits have emotional cores, and how tweaking even one habit can have staggering effects. Drawing from a number of current case studies, Duhigg argues that the key to becoming more productive, exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, building revolutionary companies and achieving success is understanding how habits work. A post-session panel will explore how Duhigg's arguments can be applied in food safety auditing to promote continuous improvement.

Maintaining Brand Integrity Through Crises

William Espey, Branding Visionary, Chipotle Mexican Grill | Bio

Organizations face unpredictability each day—and bad things do happen to good companies. William Espey candidly draws from his experience managing the Chipotle brand as the Mexican food chain was confronted with its biggest challenge since introducing the fast casual concept to the restaurant landscape. Delving into the important lessons learned from the E.coli incidents associated with the chain in late 2015, William reveals how his unique approach, considering a brand as if it is a person, is essential to rebuilding customer trust. From the importance of authenticity in your messaging and the transparency in your actions, to proactively inspiring, motivating and informing employees, William reveals the hard-earned and broadly applicable insights for business leaders to effectively manage and overcome any crisis.   

SQFI Town Hall

LeAnn Chuboff, Vice President, Technical Affairs, SQFI | Bio

What does SQFI have in store for 2018 and beyond? Get answers to your questions about the SQF program and Edition 8 of the SQF Code at this  interactive town hall-style session. Participants are encouraged to submit their questions and comments via an online app.


Putting the Credibility Behind the Certification

LeAnn Chuboff, Vice President Technical Affairs, SQFI | Bio
Bill McBride, President, Foodlink Management Services | Bio

Aside from meeting the needs of retailers or buyers, do third party certification programs have any real value? Join a panel of experts to discuss the pros and cons of certification programs, the tangible value that they bring and the improvements needed at each level to improve the safety of the supply chain.

Protecting Your Brands, Products and Consumers with Gluten-Free Certification

Kristie Gryzwinski, Senior Manager, Safe Quality Food Institute
Thomas Grace, CEO, Bia Diagnostics
Paul Savage, Corporate Director, Programs & Regulations, Olymel 

The gluten-free marketplace continues to forecast high growth, sustained by growing public awareness and diagnosis of celiac disease, wheat allergy and gluten intolerance. In order to protect consumers with gluten-related disorders, The Gluten-Free Certification (GFCF) Program was developed to certify facilities that continually meet strict, good manufacturing practices for gluten-free production. Get an overview of the benefits of the GFCF from the perspective of the manufacturer, retailer and consumer. Learn why consumers are seeking GFCP-certified products, what is expected from the gluten-free certified supplier and how adding gluten-free products to your shelf can promote growth in the retail space.

Data, Data Everywhere: Eight Analytic Applications To Help Identify and Resolve Foodborne Illness Outbreak Investigations

Yvon Pho, PMP, PhD, Senior Manager, Deloitte & Touche LLP | Bio

There’s data everywhere, but how useful is intelligence if you can’t apply the knowledge to make better business decisions?  Discover how to make data work for you with the help of eight analytic applications that can prevent recalls, manage suppliers, analyze brand reputation, identify food fraud and counterfeit product, and assess food safety performance against business objectives. By reviewing three case studies, participants will gain understanding of how analytics can help organizations to better identify food safety and quality risks.

Leveraging SQF Audits for FSMA Supplier Approval Compliance

Willette M. Crawford, Owner & Principal, Katalyst Consulting LLC | Bio

Confused about how SQF Code Edition 8 approved supplier requirements relate to the FSMA Preventative Controls for Human Food supply chain requirements? This valuable session will explain both SQF Code and FSMA requirements and help you understand how to use SQF audits to establish a solid preventative controls system that will meet FDA and SQF Code expectations. 

Allergen Recalls: Examining The Root Cause and How to Fix It

Steve Taylor, Ph.D. – Co-Director, Food Allergy Research and Resource Program, FARRP, University of Nebraska

Sponsored by the FMI Foundation

The FMI Foundation has awarded the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP) at the University of Nebraska a grant to identify root-cause labeling errors and to recommend best-practice procedures for manufacturers, suppliers and retailers in order to reduce undeclared allergen recalls. In this session, Steve Taylor, Ph.D., Co-director FARRP will present his preliminary findings and answer any questions you may have about the program.

Using Effective Quality Programs To Protect Your Reputation and Grow Your Business

Gary Smith, Director of Food Safety Systems, Eurofins Food Safety Systems | Bio

Improving and safe-guarding the quality of your products is essential to maintaining a competitive edge in the food industry and earning customer trust.  Learn how to identify and implement key quality parameters referenced in the SQF Code Edition 8 that will help you create, monitor and manage effective quality management systems.  Take home valuable insights on how to use the principles of HACCP to develop a comprehensive quality plan resulting in reliable products that consistently meet your brand specifications.

Hit That Easy Button! A Behind the Scenes Look at How SQFI is Working to Provide a Faster, Smarter, and Easier SQF Audit Experience

Leigh Feitelson, Business Development Executive, ReposiTrak/Park City Group | Bio
Kent Rice, Vice President, Support, ReposiTrak/Park City Group
Daniel Akinmolayan, Database Manager, SQFI | Bio

Last fall, ReposiTrak and SQFI partnered to make audits easier and faster for suppliers, Certification Bodies and auditors.  Since then we’ve made usability enhancements and simplified the way audits are uploaded in preparation for SQF Edition 8 implementation.  Join this session to learn about all of the upgrades that have been made to improve the SQF Assessment Database user experience, from registration to the audit process, including the uploading of results and improved reporting.

Having the Hard Conversations: Cultural Change and Food Safety

Michele T. Pfannenstiel, President/CEO, Dirigo Food Safety | Bio

Food safety planning is about more than just collecting technical documents and logs. For employees to successfully implement a HACCP or other documented food safety plan, they must feel trained, respected, invested, valued and empowered. Gain insight into the reasons that companies may have trouble fostering employee buy in, and explore tactics for having the hard conversations that lead to an engaged workforce and the production of safer food. Discuss the SQF Code Edition 8 requirements for change management and learn strategies for implementing an effective change management process.

The Future of Food Safety in the Era of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS)

Sasan Amini, PhD, Co-founder, CEO, and Board Director, Clear Labs | Bio

Next Generation Sequencing is a DNA sequencing technology that has revolutionized genomic research and will play an important role in the future of foodborne disease outbreak and economically-motivated food fraud detection. Discover how to leverage NGS to fortify your food safety programs, comply with FSMA and conduct novel R&D for new product development. Get practical tips on how retailers and manufacturers can begin using NGS to securely identify specific pathogens down the strain level, test environmental samples, verify authenticity, and ultimately reduce the risk of outbreaks or counterfeit incidents.

Best Practices in Allergen Labeling Management

Food allergen mislabeling incidents are on the rise and now account for more recalls than microorganism contamination. This workshop will explore allergen labeling from the consumer perspective and share practical tips for minimizing allergen-related recalls. You'll also hear preliminary results of a study funded by the FMI Foundation to examine the root cause of allergen mislabeling.

Part I: Beyond Cross Contact: Label Verification's Role in Allergen Recall Reduction

Scott Hegenbart, Manager Scientific Affairs, Conagra Brands, Inc.| Bio

When it comes to developing strategies to reduce allergen recalls, suppliers typically place greater emphasis on addressing cross-contact issues. Meanwhile, too little attention is given to mislabeling, which represents a greater overall percentage of food allergen recalls. This discussion will focus on rethinking food allergen management programs. Real-life industry examples and root cause analysis will set the stage for an informative dialogue and help guide you to develop a new approach to minimizing the risk of allergen mislabeling.

Part II: Allergen Labeling: How What You Say Affects Consumer Decision Making

Jennifer Jobrack, Senior National Director of Advocacy, Food Allergy Research & Education | Bio

More than 15 million Americans are impacted by a life threatening food allergy. Among the most vexing issues for this community is how to understand food labels, particularly the use of precautionary advisory labels (PALs), as well as allergen threshold level guidance. Through new research data compiled by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), you’ll gain insight on how the wording of PALs affects consumer purchasing behavior, and get the consumer perspective on allergen thresholds, which have been proposed by food industry professionals as a means of addressing allergen concerns.

Capitalizing on SQF Certification to Comply With FSMA Foreign Supplier Verification Requirements (FSVP)

Allen R. Sayler, Senior Director of Food & Cosmetic Consulting Services, EAS Consulting Group LLC

How does a foreign food supplier or US-based food processors using imported ingredients or packaging best comply with  the FSMA-mandated PCHF (Preventative Controls for Human Foods) and FSVP (Foreign Supplier Verification Program) requirements while seeking or maintaining SQF Certification using the new SQF Edition 8 Code ? In this interactive workshop you’ll identify the similarities and differences between SQF Code 8.0, FDA Preventive Controls and Foreign Supplier Verification requirements and discover how to leverage the Code to meet FSMA requirements. You’ll take home the knowledge and tools you need to build one complete, effective and compliant food safety program that meets both FSMA and SQF Code requirements.

To Tell The Truth: Understanding and Trusting Your Gut Instincts

Rod Wheeler, CEO, The Global Food Defense Institute, Senior Law Enforcement Contributor/Crime Analyst, Fox News Channel | Bio

This 2-hour workshop complements Rod Wheeler's general session on conducting investigative inquiries in the workplace.  Through role-playing exercises, you’ll improve your ability to understand and trust your gut instincts when conducting an interview. Learn how to get the answers you need without appearing accusatory. Get tips on how to deal with inaccuracies, possible falsehoods and the difficult interviewee. Discover what clues body language can give you, what to look for to establish reasonable suspicion and what gut instinct really means.

By Truck and By Train: Practical Advice for Complying with FDA's Sanitary Transportation Rule

Cathy Crawford, President, HACCP Consulting Group, LLC | Bio
Leigh Barcham, Lawyer, Hogan Lovells US LLP | Bio

FSMA’s rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food establishes requirements for vehicles and transportation equipment, transportation operations, training and recordkeeping to ensure the safety and quality of food as it moves along the supply chain. In this comprehensive workshop you’ll get an overview of the rule, when it applies and what the training and recordkeeping requirements are. Learn the roles and responsibilities of each link in the supply chain and when exemptions may apply. Discover how SQF certification can play an important role in rule compliance and get practical compliance tips that go beyond basic FSMA requirements to ensure safe, quality food.

From Culture to Compliance: The Link Between Food Safety Culture and Audit Preparedness

Melanie Neumann, President and Global Food Safety Attorney, Neumann Risk Services, LLC
Lone Jespersen, Principal, Cultivate | Bio
Dr. Martin Wiedmann, PhD, DVM, Gellert Family Professor in Food Safety, Cornell University | Bio

In the concluding session of the "Rules to Tools" four-part webinar series, brought to you by 3 M Food Safety and NRS, a panel of industry experts will discuss how a robust food safety culture can positively impact audit preparedness and signal a culture of compliance. Learn what a strong food safety culture looks like and how it can help you comply with FSMA and the SQF Code. Hear what other companies have struggled with and how they achieved success, and take home advice on how to start on the path to improving food safety culture in your own organization. Audience participation is welcome and encouraged!

This session will be live-streamed as a webinar and available on demand after the event. 

Let Data do the Driving! Improving Quality Control in Food Processing with Statistical Process Control

Iain Wright, Technical Manager, NSF International | Bio
Frank Schreurs, President, FJSNA Consulting | Bio

Statistical Process Control (SPC) uses statistical tools to review and reduce production deviations that affect quality and lead to unnecessary waste. This comprehensive workshop will introduce participants to the concepts and benefits of SPC and explain how they can be applied in a food processing environment to lower costs and ensure quality products. Using food industry examples to illustrate SPC application, participants will learn how to determine process variation and capability and use control charts to manage process deviations that will ensure that products comply with specifications on a consistent basis.

Sanitary Design in the Age of FSMA: What You Need to Know BEFORE Purchasing Equipment

Richard Brouillette, Director of Food Safety, Commercial Food Sanitation | Bio
Ramakrishnan Narasimhan, V.P. Product Safety & Research, Perry Johnson Registrars Food Safety Inc. | Bio

Many major food safety incidents can be traced back to unsanitary production conditions caused by inadequate equipment design. This comprehensive workshop will provide tools and best practices to help suppliers design and implement equipment procurement processes that will ensure a safe and hygienic production environment and compliance with the SQF Code. Discuss the differences between FDA and Edition 8 requirements and learn about industry voluntary standards for hygienic equipment design. Gain insight into sanitary design principles and concepts and how to apply them to equipment purchases. And learn what should be included in a written equipment procurement program to meet SQF Code Edition 8 requirements.

Fostering Food Safety Awareness in the Workplace

An effective food safety culture is key to protecting your company, brand and consumers. It requires buy-in from senior leadership and constructive training programs that promote food safety awareness at all levels of food production operations. This interactive workshop will examine how food safety culture compliance and training programs can be benchmarked to evaluate the level of food safety culture and awareness in your own organization.

Part I: Update on the GFSI Food Safety Culture Guidance Progress

Lone Jespersen, Principal, Cultivate | Bio
Laura Nelson, VP Business Development, Alchemy Systems | Bio

Recognizing the critical importance of an organization’s food safety culture on food safety program compliance, GFSI has convened a Food Safety Culture Technical Working Group made up of 34 food industry leaders to distill the current food safety culture research, best practices and assessments with the ultimate goal of creating a food safety culture guidance document. Get an update on the latest efforts of the group including key research influencing the draft guidance and the project timeline. Participants will be challenged to assess their own organization’s food safety culture maturity and will take home key tips on how to actively improve it.

Part II: How do You Rank? Benchmarking your Food Safety Training with Industry Peers

Raj Shah, Chief Strategy Officer, Alchemy Systems

The Global Food Safety Training Survey, co-sponsored by SQFI and completed by thousands of food manufacturers, processors and retailers, is the only comprehensive, facts-based research on global food safety training practices. The study provides a useful benchmark to assess your food safety training program. Hear the just-released results from the 2017 survey and see how your food safety training programs stack up against your global peers. And gain actionable insights on training best practices found in top performing companies.

Using Environmental Pathogen Surveillance to Prevent Foodborne Illness

Dr. Martin Wiedmann, PhD, DVM, Gellert Family Professor in Food Safety, Cornell University | Bio
Edith Wilkin, VP Food Safety/Regulatory Compliance, Leprino Foods | Bio

Environmental pathogen surveillance (EPS) is part of a multidisciplinary effort to assess the efficacy of preventative controls when there are RTE foods or sanitation preventive controls in place.  In this interactive workshop, industry and academic experts will provide practical advice to help you comply with FSMA preventative control requirements. Learn how to identify key elements of an EPS program, respond appropriately to positive findings and implement improvements in response to the changing environment. Take home valuable information on emerging trends in EPS that will better predict product safety.

Beyond Counting Steps: How Wearable Technology Will Revolutionize Food Safety Auditing

Robert M. Prevendar, Global Managing Director- Supply Chain Food Safety | Bio

Wearable technology is evolving quickly. From simply a device to count steps and calories, “wearables” have developed into an important tool in the field of medicine and many other industries. In this interactive session, participants will hear case studies and see demonstrations that illustrate how wearable technology can be used in the food industry to reduce cost, time and distance barriers leading the way to more efficient methods of enhancing food safety and quality and monitoring social and ethical compliance.

Myths and Legends - Deciphering the Top Misunderstood SQF Code Requirements

Chris Sinclair, Compliance Manager, SQFI | Bio
Bill McBride, President, Foodlink Management Services | Bio

Since being benchmarked by GFSI in 2004, the SQF Code has morphed from a 4-page document into 7 Codes covering 5 industry sectors and 30 food sector categories. With every addition, modification and deletion comes a host of questions on code interpretation and implementation. Join this interactive session to gain insight into the most commonly misunderstood Code requirements and take home tips on interpreting and implementing them.

Inedible to Edible-- Handling Requirements for Animal Food

Gary Smith, Director of Food Safety Systems, Eurofins Food Safety Systems | Bio

Under FSMA, specific controls are in place to address inedible waste and by-products designated for animal food. The SQF Code also specifies storage and handling requirements for sites. Get an overview of these regulatory and Code requirements and take home best practices for ensuring that inedible waste designated for animal food is handled correctly to prevent risk to the animal or food for human consumption.

SQFI’s Ethical Sourcing Standard; A New Look and a Brand Owner’s Journey

Tim Linder, Environmental Safety and Health Manager, H.P. Hood, L.L.C.
Steve Brown, Certified Safety Resources | Bio

Gain insights on lessons learned while implementing the SQF Ethical Sourcing Standard in this real-life case study and hear perspectives on the positive impact of having an accredited social and environmental management program in place. Get an overview of the changes in Ethical Sourcing Version 2.1 released in May 2017.

Food Sector Category Idea Exchange

Join in a lively discussion about the issues and challenges that impact food safety and quality professionals and SQF stakeholders with a focus on Edition 8 of the SQF Code. Get ideas, swap best practices, share your pain points and connect with your peers in your food safety category. The following FSCs will be covered. If your FSC is not listed, you can join the SQF General Discusion group.

To help facilitate the discussion, we suggest you use our Q&A app. Just click on the ARS/Polling button at the bottom of the mobile app for each FSC. There you’ll be able to ask questions or suggest issues that you’d like to discuss with your peers. You’ll also have the ability to “upvote” any questions/issues you like so that the facilitator knows which ones are of most importance to the group.

  • Growing and Production of Fresh Produce, Fresh Produce   Wholesaling and Distribution and Fresh Produce Pack House Operations
  • Processing of Cereal Grains and Nuts
  • Recipe Meals Manufacture
  • Oils, Fats, and the Manufacture of Oil or Fat-Based Spreads
  • Processing of Manufactured Meats and Poultry, Seafood Processing
  • Ice, Drink and Beverage Processing
  • Manufacture of Food Sector Packaging Materials
  • Food Ingredient Manufacture
  • Bakery and Snack Food Processing
  • Confectionery Manufacturing
  • Fruit and Vegetable Processing
  • Egg Processing
  • Dairy Food Processing
  • SQF General Discussion
  • Food Retailing
  • Canning, Pasteurizing, UHT and Aseptic Operations and Preserved Foods Manufacture
  • Food Wholesaling and Distribution
  • Manufacture of Animal Feed & Pet Food, Growing and Harvesting of Animal Feed
  • Slaughterhouse, Boning & Butchery Operations

The Power of Habit - Panel Discussion

Moderator: Charles Duhigg, Award-Winning New York Times Business Reporter and Author

In this discussion, a panel of industry stakeholders will discuss how understanding and addressing habits in the workplace can shape the way we manage food safety programs, prepare for and conduct audits and the way auditors manage the audit process.

Discussion Dens - Open Space Knowledge Sharing

Share Your Knowledge and Ideas!

Seeking another option to network, engage and learn from others in a social learning dynamic outside of the formal conference sessions? You’ll find it at the Discussion Dens!

These casual spaces are for informal, self-directed idea sharing. Simply send us your discussion idea* and preferred time slot, respond back to our invitation and we’ll take care of inviting attendees via push notification on the mobile app. Conference participants do not have to register to attend. Just show up!

Sign up on the mobile app or email us

*Discussions should be commercial free and are not intended to be a sales pitch.

Schedule (2 concurrent sessions per time slot):

Tuesday        1:30 – 2:45 pm
Wednesday   10:00 – 11:00 am | 1:15 am – 12:15 pm | 1:45 – 2:45 pm | 2:45 – 3:45 pm
Thursday        9:30  – 10:30 am | 10:30 – 11:30 am | 12:45 – 1:45 pm 

Ambassador Program Happy Hour

Sponsored by Eurofins Certification

Participants of the Ambassador Program for first-time attendees are invited to join their assigned mentors and other first-timers at a casual happy hour. Please note that this event is strictly BY INVITATION ONLY.

     Sponsored by EAGLE Certification Group


Download the flyer

It’s a bar. It’s an arcade. It’s Bar+cade! Brush up on those Galaga skills and join us for this one-of-a-kind networking event featuring classic arcade games, old school cocktails and live-band karaoke.  What’s better than nostalgically playing a few of your favorite childhood arcade games while mixing and mingling with industry friends. No quarters required.

SQFI Quality 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.  The winners will be announced on Tuesday, November 7 at 10.30 am and Wednesday, November 8 at 8.00 a.m. Congratulations to our finalists!

Auditor of the Year Nominees

  • Alan Baumfalk, SQF Auditor – Eurofins
  • Martin Fowell, Certification Manager – Merieux NutriSciences
  • Rocio Salgado, SQF Auditor – AIB International

Practitioner of the Year Nominees

  • Cheriene Griffith, Operations Manager – CHEVOO Inc.
  • Jody McSweeney, Corporate Food Safety Manager/Fountain Inn QA Manager – D&W Fine Pack, LLC
  • John Novak, President – Sokol & Company
  • Natalia Beasley, SQF Practitioner/Food Safety Team Lead – Champion Petfoods USA Inc.



Daniel Akinmolayan

Daniel Akinmolayan is Manager, IT Systems at the Safe Quality Food Institute where he oversees and supports SQFI’s IT and directory database management systems. Previously he worked at Whole Foods Market in Operational Support and Systems Administration. Daniel  has considerable experience in database design, implementation, maintenance and regression testing  and is an Oracle DBA professional with extensive work experience in Unix, Linux (Red Hat 6.5) environments. He holds a  Master of Science in Information Technology and Database Systems Technology from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Applied Science Economics from Joseph Ayo Babalola University in Nigeria.

Dr. Sasan Amini

Dr. Sasan Amini  is the co-founder, CEO and Board Director of Clear Lab. After getting his PhD in Genomics from Princeton, Sasan spent a few years in the Advanced Research department at Illumina, working on the most state-of-the-art genomics approaches and platforms. Sasan received his B.Sc. in Biotechnology from the University of Tehran, where he entered as a gold medalist in the International Biology Olympiad. While in college, he served as the youngest Board member of the Iranian National Biology Olympiad Committee and authored a book on Mendelian Genetics which has been re-printed 10 times over the past decade. He holds multiple patents and publications in the field. He was elected as a LinkedIn Next Waver in the Food & Leisure category in 2017.

Leigh Barcham

Leigh Barcham  is an Associate at Hogan Lovells, providing business-oriented legal and policy solutions to food companies and trade associations.  She advises clients on state and regulatory issues that may arise throughout the entire food production line from farm to table.  Leigh has more than 5 years of public policy experience.  Before law school she served as a policy analyst for international affairs and climate change at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.


Walter Bond

Like you, Walter Bond knows what it's like to be discounted by everyone around you. To run up against seemingly insurmountable challenges; to have moments where the challenges were winning. But Walter recognized a single truth that changed everything: Peak Performers have no excuses for failure, only reasons for success.

After several stellar high-school seasons, Walter earned a scholarship on the University of Minnesota basketball team. As an average college player who was overlooked by the NBA, Walter tapped into a peak performance mindset, changed his work ethic, and found himself a professional NBA basketball player for the Dallas Mavericks. Now retired from the NBA, Walter Bond shares stories, lessons, and motivation that spark superstars to success, moves middle players into action, and excites attendees to come back for more.

Richard Brouillette

Richard Brouillette brings a wealth of international leadership expertise to his role as Food Safety Director at Commercial Food Sanitation. He began his career as an industrial microbiologist, before moving to corporate sanitation and quality roles, responsible for developing programs, procedures and training and working with internal manufacturing locations as well as with external manufacturers and suppliers.  He leading the micro team supporting the meat, dairy, pizza, and grocery products for Kraft Foods North America and, in his most recent role at Mondelez International, he headed an international team of 12 microbiologists and was responsible for new product  and process risk assessments for new products, developing and implementation of global food safety policies/programs and coordinating the company’s global activities for microbiology .  Although he specializes in the bakery industry, the combination with his knowledge of food safety across food categories enables him to help plants effectively improve, implement and sustain sanitation and food safety programs.

Steve Brown

Stephen BrownSteve has over 30 years of EHS experience in manufacturing and 6 years of EHS consulting experience. He has held positions at the facility, division, business group and corporate levels, including 20 years of global responsibilities. Steve’s professional focus includes a strong emphasis on the role of culture as the foundation for HSE excellence, coupled with management systems and behavior-based processes as the mechanisms for continual improvement. His management systems experience includes implementation, training and/or auditing for Responsible Care, OSHA Voluntary Protection Program, OSHA Process Safety Management / EPA Risk Management Programs, company-specific EHS management system schemes, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 and ISO 9001. Steve co-authored the newly- accredited SQFI Ethical Sourcing (ES) Standard, is the lead trainer for ES auditor training and was the first auditor approved by SQFI to audit against the requirements of the ES Standard.

LeAnn Chuboff

LeAnn has over 25 years of foodservice experience specializing in supply chain food safety and quality assurance. Currently she is Vice President, Technical Affairs for the Safe Quality Food (SQF) Institute responsible for the technical elements of the SQF program, including the development, maintenance and technical support of the SQF code and supporting materials. Prior to working at the SQF Institute, LeAnn worked for the National Restaurant Association Solutions as the Director of Science and Regulatory Relations. In this role, she was responsible for the technical accuracy of the ServSafe food safety program and developed program and services on food safety and food defense to fit with all segments of the restaurant industry. LeAnn has also worked for Long John Silver’s and Boston Market in corporate quality assurance, where she developed food safety and vendor approval programs. LeAnn graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. in Food Science and is active with many organizations including GFSI, the Conference for Food Protection and the International Association for Food Protection. She sits on several committees in an effort to enhance policy and develop programs for the industry to help protect public health.

Anne Cooper

Anne Cooper  has been a Technical Manager with several GFSI benchmarked Certification Bodies for nine years, currently working as Food Technical Manager with Eagle Certification Group. Previously, Anne had a ten year career as a Global Quality Assurance Manager at Dunkin' Brands, where she trained franchisees, field and corporate personnel, and assessed the retail food safety system in over 20,000 restaurants and commercial bakeries for three brands globally. Prior to 1998, Anne was with the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service where she developed and implemented research-based educational outreach programs to the public, foodservice, and agricultural industries. She holds a B.S. degree in Food Science from Marymount College and an M.B.A. degree from Florida International University. 

Cathy Crawford

Cathy M. Crawford is Vice President of the HACCP Consulting Group, LLC (HCG) and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Arizona State University and a Master of Science degree in Food Safety from Michigan State University. Cathy conducts HACCP and SQF training through the HCG licensed SQF Training Center and is also a Senior Food Safety Consultant with the Quality Support Group. She has provided food safety consulting services to a variety of businesses and has assisted dozens of companies in achieving and maintaining Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) scheme certification. Prior to becoming an SQF Trainer, Cathy was an SQF auditor and registered consultant. Previously, Cathy was the Director of Regulatory and Technical Services for a meat and poultry processing company where she developed regulatory and food safety strategies for multiple facilities. Cathy has also specialized in food defense. She conducted a series of food defense workshops sponsored by the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) and facilitated industry, trade association and FSIS focus groups to produce model food defense plans and guidance material.

Dr. Willette M. Crawford

Dr. Willette M. Crawford is a leading food microbiologist with over 14 years of experience in food safety, microbiology, and regulatory compliance. Currently she leads Katalyst Consulting LLC, a boutique food safety consultancy based in the San Francisco Bary Area. She is a proven leader in the fresh produce industry with experience across the entire supply chain and has held leadership positions for companies such as Chiquita Brands and Green Giant Fresh. Dr. Crawford also served as a food/produce safety expert for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to develop Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Regulations and international standards and provided policy and technical expertise in FDA’s response to foodborne illness outbreaks, recalls, investigations, and import issues.  She is an active member of several industry organizations and serves on various committees such as United Fresh Produce Association’s Food Safety and Technology Council and the International Association for Food Protection’s Fruit and Vegetable PDG. She has authored and reviewed numerous industry and regulatory guidance documents, food safety and microbiology book chapters, and regulatory reports. Additionally she provides instruction as a Lead Instructor for the FSMA Preventive Controls Qualified Individual, Produce Safety, and Foreign Supplier Verification training courses. She holds Bachelors of Science degrees in Biology and Chemistry from South Carolina State University, a Masters of Public Health degree from East Tennessee State University, and a doctorate in Food Science/Microbiology/Safety from Purdue University.

Charles Duhigg

Charles Duhigg is the bestselling author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, which explores the science of habit formation in our lives, companies and societies. His newest book Smarter, Better, Faster: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business (2016) is a fascinating exploration of the science of productivity, and why, in today’s world, managing how you think—rather than what you think—can transform your life.

Duhigg is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for the business section of The New York Times, where he contributes to the newspaper and the Times’ Magazine. He has authored or contributed to multiple series, including “The Reckoning” (2008), which studied the causes and outcomes of the financial crisis, and “The iEconomy”, which examined the global economy through the lens of Apple, and which won the 2013 Pulitzer prize in explanatory journalism. He has also won the George Polk Award (2007), the Gerald Loeb Award (2008), the National Journalism Award (2009) and other honors.

In addition to his reporting, Charles Duhigg is a regular contributor to television and radio, including the Newshour with Jim LehrerFrontlineDr. Oz and various programs on CNBC and NPR.

William Espey

William Espey, the driving force responsible for developing Chipotle’s unique brand voice. Since William started with Chipotle Mexican Grill as its sole marketing creative when the company had less than 20 locations, he has helped the brand flourish to more than 2,000 restaurants and counting in the U.S. and abroad. From customer-facing advertising to internal communications, he eschewed canned, calculated, and characteristically corporate approaches to marketing strategy, instead developing Chipotle’s award-winning brand voice organically, purposefully, and authentically, as a personal expression of the company’s unique values and culture.

Leigh Feitelson

Leigh Feitelson is the Business Development Executive for ReposiTrak at Park City Group where she is responsible for business development in the convenience channel, the pharma channel, and is working to expand the adoption of ReposiTrak in food service.  Prior to joining Park City Group, Leigh was a Senior Account Director, Food Safety Solutions at Underwriters Laboratories (UL) where she was responsible for creating and implementing comprehensive, sustainable and effective food safety training programs, in addition to  growing the food safety and GMP audit programs.   Leigh has a strong background in compliance and technology, holding previous positions focused on enterprise wide implementation of corporate compliance software solutions as well as training programs affecting culture change within organizations.  She currently serves on the Conference for Food Protection Sponsorship Committee and is a member of the Institute of Food Technologists and the International Society of Performance Improvement. 

Scott Hegenbart

Scott Hegenbart is Manager of Scientific Affairs for Conagra Brands, Inc. Scott works in Conagra’s Food Protection and Regulatory Affairs group where he leads corporate food safety programs for food allergens, sensitive food ingredients and physical hazards. With degrees in both Chemistry and Speech Communication from Iowa State University, Scott has held several quality assurance, food safety and product development positions over more than 30 years in the food industry. He also has extensive experience in the food industry media where he has authored more than 200 articles about product development, ingredient technology and food safety.


Lone Jespersen

Lone has been with Maple Leaf Foods since 2004 initially as Six Sigma Black Belt and later as Director, Six Sigma. Since 2009, she has been resonsible  for the execution of the Maple Leaf Foods food safety strategy and recently took on leadership of all operations learning. Prior to that, Lone worked for Woodbridge Foam as Engineering and Operations manager responsible for the safety and quality of automobile safety products. Lone holds a Master in Mechanical Engineering from Syd Dansk University, Denmark, a Master of Food Science from the University of Guelph, and is presently pursuing her PhD with Dr. Mansel Griffiths at the University of Guelph. Lone’s passion for food safety culture has led to the development of her food safety culture measurement system “Cultivate Food Safety” which she is currently refining with North American and European food manufactures. Lone was the 2014 recipient of the Mary Edmunds Williams Scholarships in support of her food safety culture research.

Jennifer Jobrack

As Senior National Director of Advocacy for Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), Jen manages the state, municipal, and related industry policy portfolio focused on the inclusion and safety of people with food allergies.  Recent campaigns include access to epinephrine in schools, public places and airlines; college and university preparedness for students with food allergies; restaurant accommodations; food labeling, and improving the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis, among others.   Jen works with national coalitions of advocates, public officials and industry leaders on best practices in legislation, strategy and implementation. Previously, Jen was executive director of a family foundation, created a communications and marketing department for Chicago’s largest charitable foundation, and developed new initiatives for the Illinois Attorney General’s office. She received her MA from The University of Chicago, her BA from Bryn Mawr College, and has studied and worked in France, Scotland, and Israel.

Bill McBride

Bill McBride is the Principal and Managing Director of Foodlink Management Services and has thirty years' experience in food safety and quality assurance in the global food industry. He has worked with a number of premier organizations in the food and beverage industries within Australia and internationally as a consultant, trainer, auditor or certification manager. He also serves as The Asia Pacific representative for the SQF Institute and is Chairman of the GFSI Auditor Competence Scheme Committee. Previously, Bill was the Vice President of Business Development for Advancing Food Safety Pty Ltd, a food safety training organization, General Manager Food Division for NCSI and Chairman of the personnel certification body QSA International. He is the project manager and author of Food Safety Auditor Competency - Proposed National Competency Criteria and Management Systems and Guidelines for Implementation of Eurepgap (GlobalGAP) in Australia for the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Bill is also a former accredited lead food safety auditor training provider and former accredited BRC trainer, an IFS trained auditor and Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) accredited training provider.

Ramakrishnan (Rama) Narasimhan

Ramakrishnan Narasimhan is the Vice President, Product Safety and Research at Perry Johnson Registrar Food Safety Inc. He has over 35 years of international experience in the food industry and was associated with multinational companies such as Nestle and Danone. He is a certified/approved trainer for a number of GFSI benchmarked standards such as SQF, BRC, and IFS) and also a lead instructor for the FSMA FSPCA training. In addition to delivering over fifty training sessions on food safety and HACCP, he has also delivered  conference talks on product safety and quality in Canada, Thailand, and Hong Kong. Rama holds a PhD in food science as well as professional certifications from the American Society for Quality (ASQ); Certified Packaging Professional (CPP) from the Institute of Packaging Professional, USA; Certified Food Scientist (CFS) from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), USA and Certified Food Safety Manager (CFSM), National Registry of Food Safety.

Laura Nelson

Laura Nelson serves as Vice President Food Safety and Global Alliances at Alchemy Systems. She has over 25 years of experience implementing food safety and quality control programs for processing, packaging, food service, and retail operations. She has worked with global retailers and manufacturers in the implementation of their GFSI certification programs. Prior to Alchemy, Laura managed Silliker’s South Region food testing laboratories, implemented ISO 17025 requirements, conducted GMP and HACCP audits, and trained food safety auditors. Her hands-on experience in testing food products has assisted food companies in the successful implementation of good manufacturing practices (GMP), quality assurance, and HACCP programs. Laura is a graduate of University of Texas with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology.

Dr. Michele Pfannenstiel

Dr. Michele Pfannenstiel is Dirigo Food Safety’s President and CEO. She earned her BA in Economics and Geology from Wellesley College, after which she served in the Peace Corps in Irbid, Jordan. In her second year of study at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine,  she was chosen for the prestigious Health Professions Scholarship Program through the US Army. Upon receiving her DVM, Michele commissioned into the US Army Veterinary Corps, where she learned the food safety skills she now brings to producers and processors across the country. Michele is an International HACCP Alliance certified trainer and an ASQ certified auditor. She has taught food safety workshops at the Stone Barns Center, PigStock TC, the Wallace Center Food Hub Conference, the New England Meat Conference, and the Empowering Women Veterans in Business and Agriculture Conference.

Yvon Pho

Dr. Pho is a senior manager in Deloitte & Touche LLP’s Risk Analytics Practice. She has over 15 years of experience in risk analysis, cognitive computing, statistical programming, econometric modeling, and technical writing, and over 13 years of consulting experience. She routinely assists C-suite and senior executives design analytics strategies, develop advanced analytics solutions to help them address business challenges, and deliver business intelligence insights through data visualization. Dr. Pho most recently applied text analytics to identify emerging product and food safety risks in the supply chain. Yvon plays a leading analytics role in Deloitte’s Franchisor Advisory Services initiatives and actively speaks at analytics conferences. She manages a global team of data scientists and analysts who provide advanced analytics services for several of Deloitte’s key clients in the restaurants and retail subsectors, including a global multi-billion dollar food service company, and four of the top 10 largest retailers in the world in 2016.

Robert Prevendar

Robert Prevendar has 25 years of public health and food safety experience, including work in regulatory agencies, training, auditing, consulting, operations, and program management.   Throughout his career he has gained true global experience by spending years living and working in Asia and Europe.  Robert joined NSF in 2002 and helped lead the expansion of NSF’s Global Food Division.  He currently serves as Global Managing Director of Supply Chain Food Safety and Agriculture programs at NSF International, the leading certifier to Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)-benchmarked standards.  NSF has had a public health mission for 70 years and provides food safety solutions throughout the entire supply chain.

Frank Schreurs

Frank Schreurs has more than 30 years of management and leadership experience in the food and beverage industry.  Frank began his career in food manufacturing with the Kellogg Co. and transitioned into the services sector with the Guelph Food Technology Centre.  Over the course of 18 years, he established and grew the consultancy and auditing business units into the number one service provider to the F&B sector in Canada.  In 2013 he successfully transitioned GFTC through a merger with NSF International.  During his 18 years Frank lead his team of seasoned industry professionals in the delivery of consultancy and auditing services to the entire supply chain.  His knowledge of risk and quality management throughout the supply chain was illustrated through the hundreds of completed client projects. Food safety projects included systems auditing (HACCP, BRC, SQF) as well as development and implementation. Quality projects included SPC applications to overweight control, ROI on asset purchases and specification compliance as well as ISO 9000 systems development and implementation. Frank is currently operating a consultancy business as well as being the Canadian and Pacific North West U.S.A. representative for the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI).

Chris Sinclair

Chris SinclairAs the Compliance Manager at SQFI, Chris is responsible for overseeing and monitoring the application of the SQF Program. This includes auditor, CB and supplier activity to ensure the program requirements are met and continue to meet stakeholder expectations. Chris’s background as an auditor and supplier brings a new perspective that takes the SQF compliance program to a new level. Chris came to SQF with more than 7 years of experience, having worked in the food industry in multiple roles, most recently as an SQF Practitioner. In this role, Chris was responsible for food safety, quality and regulatory compliance for all the products processed at Nutravail Technologies.Chris received a bachelor's degree in food science and technology from Virginia Tech University.

Gary Smith

As Director, Food Safety Systems, Gary brings over 20 years of industry experience to his duties at Eurofins Food Safety Systems. He helps food processors, distributors, and packagers of all sizes navigate the complexities of achieving compliance with the latest food standards, creating value beyond certification. In addition, he oversees all aspects of the supply chain business, including vendor, GMP, GLP, and Warehouse/Distribution auditing services and certifications, and all SQF, FAMI-QS/ISFSF, and domestic SFSF work. Gary has worked as a regulator, buyer, supplier, trainer, auditor, head of a certification body, and head of a standard owner. Gary has an extensive list of professional certifications and industry memberships and has been active on a number of policy influencing committees. He currently serves as Chair of the Food Safety Service Providers (FSSP), a member of the Accreditation task force and Guidance document working group, a member of the GFSI, and as a member of the Technical Advisory Committee for SQFI. Gary holds an MS in Environmental Biology from Governors State University and a BS in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois.

Dr. John Spink

Dr. John Spink is the Director of the Food Fraud Initiative at Michigan State University (USA). His MSU Packaging PhD work was on Anti-Counterfeit Strategy and his broad research expands from Food Fraud to product fraud related business risks (including Enterprise Risk Management ERM and COSO), and a range of outreach activities that cover policy and trade issues. While conducting his research and outreach he has a full teaching load with graduate courses “Packaging for Food Safety,” “Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection (Food Fraud),” and” Quantifying Food Risk.” He is widely published in leading academic journals with important works such as “Defining the Public Health Threat of Food Fraud.” His leadership positions include product fraud related activities with ISO, GFSI Food Fraud Think Tank, and U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP). Global activities include engagements with the European Commission, INTERPOL and Operation Opson, New Zealand MPI, and serves as Advisor on Food Fraud to the Chinese National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment (CFSA). Outreach includes MSU’s biannual “Food Fraud MOOC” (Massive Open Online Course) that offers free training and certificates online. (www.FoodFraud.msu.edu)

Rod Wheeler

Homeland Security and Global Food Defense and Law Enforcement Expert Rod Wheeler is the founder and CEO of the Global Food Defense Institute. He is a former “all-star” Homicide Detective with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington DC as well as an investigator for the State of Ohio Attorney General.  Rod also serves as a Senior Crime/Law Enforcement and Domestic Terrorism Expert for the Fox News Channel since 2002.

Rod is a nationally recognized expert in criminal investigation, law enforcement, Food Defense (FSMA) and Food Fraud. Rod is an active member of the American Society of Criminology, Association of Contingency Planning, National Association of Crime Analyst, National Blacks in Criminal Justice Association, The National Association of Investigative Specialist, The American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers, The International Public Safety Association and the past chairman of the Food Defense Security Council of ASIS International.

Rod has assisted dozens of US based company’s develop Global Security Plans and Procedures and training on these procedures. In 2010 Rod was presented with a high-level honor from the United States Army Veterinary service for providing guidance and training to over 200 military personnel for assisting the US Military develop Food Defense programs and guidelines for its vendors, suppliers and military bases around the world.

Martin Wiedmann

Martin Wiedmann is the Gellert Family Professor of Food Safety in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University and also serves as the Director of Graduate Studies for the Field of Food Science and Technology at Cornell. His research interests focus on farm-to-table microbial food quality and food safety and the application of molecular tools to study the biology and transmission of foodborne pathogens and spoilage organisms. He was a member of the Listeria Outbreak Working Group, which was honored by a USDA Secretary’s Award for Superior Service in 2000. Martin received a veterinary degree and a doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich in 1992 and 1994, and a Ph.D. in Food Science from Cornell in 1997.


Edith Wilkin

Edith Wilkin leads food safety for Leprino Foods Company. Her areas of expertise include pathogen control, process validations, laboratory operations and food regulations.She has contributed to numerous industry initiatives most notably: Enhanced Traceability Guidance for Dairy Operations, IFT’s Best Practices for Food Traceability, Listeria Control Guidance for Dairy Operations and FDA’s Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance training.Currently, she serves on the Food Safety Operating Committee of the Innovation Center for US Dairy and teaches the Dairy Plant Food Safety Workshop series.  She is Vice Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the National Conference of Interstate Milk Shippers which administers the Grade A Milk Safety Program.  She serves on ILSI North America’s Microbiology Committee and Chairs IAFP’s Low Water Activity Foods Professional Development Group.

Iain Wright

Iain Wright has 40 years experience in the Food Industry.  Iain worked for 20 years in operations of a dairy products company manufacturing dairy based products. Following a stint as Plant Manager, Iain became a member of a special corporate team that supported other factories using flowcharting for quality and food safety. Reduction of product variation and preventing deviation from regulatory and customer specification was the main focus of this project which was conducted for numerous facilities. Iain spent several years as an independent contractor before joining GFTC as Audit Services Manager in 2014. Iain worked as an auditor, audit coach and certification manager.  Following a career-long interest in training and adult education, Iain joined NSF Training and Education full time in 2014 and develops and delivers client specific training, e-learning webinars and face to face training programs.

Attendee Information



Committee Charter