2018 SQF International Conference


 Schedule | Special Features | Program Details| Committee | Speaker Resources

Program Schedule

  • SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2018 (Pre-Con)

    8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Pre-Conference Training Classes
    (additional fee applies)
  • MONDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2018 (Pre-Con)

    8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Pre-Conference Training Classes
    (additional fee applies)
    5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Ambassador Program Orientation
    (by invitation only)

  • TUESDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2018

    9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Welcome Coffee Break in the Exhibit Hall  
    10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Getting to Great Performance     
    11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. General Session
    12:30 a.m. – 1:45 p.m. Lunch in the Exhibit Hall
    1:45 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. Real Cases, Real Stories
    2:45 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. Networking Break in the Exhibit Hall
    3:15 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. Knowledge Swaps
    4:15 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Celebrating Our Industry: The 2018 SQF Quality Achievement Awards
    5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Happy Hour in the Exhibit Hall

    7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. Breakfast in the Exhibit Hall
    8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Embrace The Shake: Transforming Limitations into Opportunities
    9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Networking Break in Exhibit Hall
    9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Learning Labs
    10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.   Express Break 
    10:45 a.m. – 11:45 p.m. Learning Labs
    11:45 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. Lunch in Exhibit Hall
    1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Learning Labs
    2:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Express Break
    2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. Learning Labs
    3:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. Networking Break in the Exhibit Hall
    3:45 p.m. – 4:30 p.m General Session
    4:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Team Collaboration Project
    (Embrace The Shake Part II)
    6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Casino Night in Exhibit Hall   


  • THURSDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2018

    7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. Breakfast in the Exhibit Hall
    8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. SQF Town Hall
    9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Networking Break in Exhibit Hall
    10:00 a.m. -11:00 a.m.  Learning Labs
    11:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Express Break 
    11:15 am – 12:15 pm   Learning Labs
    12:15 am – 1:30 pm   Lunch in Exhibit Hall
    1:30 pm – 2:30 pm     General Session
    2:30 pm – 3:00 pm       The "Big Reveal" - Team Collaboration Project Results


SQF Town Hall

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.

Knowledge Swaps

Join in a lively discussion about the issues and challenges that impact food safety and quality professionals and SQF stakeholders. Get ideas, swap best practices, share your pain points and connect with your peers in your food safety category.

Keynotes and General Sessions

Getting to Great Performance

The Water Coolers

For over 15 years, THE WATER COOLERS have entertained audiences around the world with their high energy, uncommonly funny,  authentic take on work and life. In this laugh-out-loud keynote, this award-winning group of entertainers use their unique mix of music and comedy combined with real-world practical tips to deliver a unique and authentic perspective about achieving and maintaining peak performance in today’s world. The high-energy, hilarious, relatable content offers easy-to-apply tips on facing the fear that blocks innovation, engaging in trust-based collaboration and gaining focus in a time of unparalleled distraction.


Embrace the Shake: Transforming Limitations into Opportunities (Two-Part Session)

Phil Hansen, Inspirational Multimedia Artist

The term “Embrace the Shake” is coined from Artist Phil Hansen’s personal story of transformation. After developing a career-ending tremor in his drawing hand, Phil embraced his “shake” both physically and metaphorically by redefining his limitation as an impetus for creativity. Phil not only restored his artistic abilities, he became a much more creative and innovative artist than ever before. Phil’s powerful message of finding creativity within limitations will inspire you to stop looking on the outside, and start looking inside yourself for resources that can transform your challenges into opportunities for success.

Team Collaboration Project with Phil Hansen PLUS "The BIG REVEAL"

“Embrace the shake” isn’t just a talk, it’s an experience! Through jaw-dropping visuals and LIVE interactive art, get ready to break preconceived assumptions, activate your creative capacity, and bring fresh ways of viewing the task at hand that will culminate with success.


Real Cases, Real Stories: Why Food Safety Matters

Dr. Darin Detwiler, Assistant Dean and Professor, Northeastern University - College of Professional Studies
Bill Marler, Food Safety Attorney, Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm

More than 48 million people are stricken annually by foodborne illness. Of those, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. Unless you have personally experienced the suffering and loss associated with foodborne illness, you might not fully grasp just how critical your role as a food safety professional really is. In this compelling session, you’ll hear real cases of foodborne illness that will remind you of the consequences of making a bad food safety decision. You’ll take home important information to incorporate into your training. And you’ll leave with a clearer understanding of the difference you make in keeping food safe to eat and the vital role you play in preventing human suffering and saving lives.

SQFI Town Hall

LeAnn Chuboff, Vice President, Technical Affairs, Safe Quality Food Institute

Arguably the most popular sessions at the annual SQF International Conference! This is your opportunity to get the latest updates on SQFI and the SQF Food Safety and Quality Code and pose your questions to SQFI's VP of Technical Affairs.

Learning Labs (more coming soon!)

Breakout of Boredom! Using Escape Room & Other Interactive Techniques to Revitalize Your Training Programs

Topic Tag: Food Safety Training

Clark Barthel, Quality Engineer, D&W Fine Pack

The boom in so-called “Escape Rooms” popping up all over the country in the past few years demonstrates the popularity of experiential entertainment. But entertainment aside, how can these adventure games that require participants to solve clues and puzzles together in teams be used in a food safety training environment to challenge and engage participants? In this fascinating session you’ll learn how to develop your own dynamic and engaging training sessions that implement escape room elements and other interactive scenarios. You’ll leave with a toolbox of methods and approaches for creating sessions that emphasize SQF fundamentals in your specific manufacturing or service environment, satisfy the training needs of adult learners and challenge, reward and engage the participants.

Decoding the Mystery of Risk Assessment

Joy Dziech, Senior Quality Systems Manager, North America, Kerry

Topic Tags: Risk Assessment, SQF Food Safety Code, SQF Quality Code

There’s a potential food safety hazard and the quality team jumps into action to perform a risk assessment to find THE ANSWER, while other functions look on in confusion over this mysterious process. How do you explain why and how you’re doing it and more importantly get their valuable input and participate? This informative session will focus on the Risk ARR method – Assessment, Response, Resolution as a means of assessment in a manufacturing environment and discuss where to use it and how to get started. Learn how to teach this method and incorporate it in to your SQF system and discover how its application can enhance food safety culture within your plant.

When it Doesn’t Smell, Look or Feel Right: Food Fraud Detection, Monitoring and Mitigation in The Raw Material Supply Chain

Claire Winkel, Executive Manager - Technical Solutions, Integrity Solutions

Topic Tag: Food Fraud

Detecting and preventing food fraud matters. In this real life case study that follows turmeric through the supply chain, from importer to blender to food manufacturer, you’ll be reminded how even seemingly innocuous fraudulent substitution of products like rice starch or tapioca can have devastating food safety consequences.  The case study will review the results of the actual monitoring and control measures that were implemented, such as trained taste panels, as well as the resulting corrective actions. You’ll discuss what the potential implications of food fraud could have been for the final food processor and takeaway actionable ideas on how to detect, monitor and mitigate food fraud in your own plants.

Top SQF Non-Conformances and How to Avoid Them

Gary Smith, Vice President, Food Safety Systems, Eurofins

Topic Tags: SQF Food Safety Code, SQF Food Quality Code

A perennial favorite! Discover the top 10 non-conformances during SQF audits over the past year, discuss why they happen and how they can be avoided. Get expert recommendations and solutions for avoiding non-conformances and tips on how to strengthen your internal audit program to improve verification of the SQF system.

Salmonella, Listeria, and E. Coli, Oh My! Performing a Gap Analysis of your Environmental Monitoring Program

Gary Smith, Vice President, Food Safety Systems, Eurofins
Laura Nelson, VP of Food Safety & Global Alliances, Alchemy Systems

Topic Tag: EMP

Food-borne pathogens are one of the food industry’s biggest criminals, impacting more than 48 million Americans each year. Developing and maintaining a robust environmental monitoring program that identifies environmental risks is an on-going, but critical practice for your organization.  In reality, many organizations are missing critical EM program protocols as technology and best practices evolve.   Join microbiological experts and EM Technical Working Group members, Gary Smith and Laura Nelson, as they help you access your Environmental Monitoring Program and share and share the latest best practices to reduce risks and liabilities associated with food-borne pathogens.

Unpacking the Facts: Tackling Food Safety Challenges in the Food Packaging Industry

Roger Roeth, Executive Technical Officer, Eagle Certification Group          

Topic Tag:  Food Packaging

Food safety standards and customer requirements in the food packaging industry can often be unclear both for packaging suppliers and their food manufacturer customers. This session will seek to clarify the different risks associated with food packaging manufacturing versus food manufacturing facilities and offer guidance on how to manage them. You’ll review several of the SQF Code requirements such as food fraud and environmental monitoring and how they apply to food packaging manufacturing operations, discuss supplier expectations and you can boost your company’s food safety reputation. Food manufacturers will also benefit from this session by learning about the hazards their packaging suppliers face, enabling them to develop a stronger approved supplier program.

SQF Quality Code Certification: Best Practices and Better Profits!

Frank Schreurs, Regional Representative, Canada & NW U.S.A, Safe Quality Food Institute  
Jeff Chilton, VP of Professional Services, Alchemy Systems

Topic Tag: SQF Food Quality Code

One major modification that SQFI made to the SQF Code in Edition 8 was its approach to food quality certification. The SQF Quality Code allows companies to implement a comprehensive Food Quality Plan, with identified controls, that can lead to a reduction in complaints and improved product consistency. This session will examine the economic benefits of achieving food quality certification and present strategies for effective implementation and sustainment. You’ll also gain insight into SQF Quality Code guidance updates based on 2018 completed certifications and feedback.

Tools for Plants - Organizing Your Programs for an Efficient SQF Audit

David Melton, Director, Food Safety & Quality, Pegasus Foods, Inc.

Topic Tags: SQF Food Safety Code, SQF Quality Code

Do you fumble through SOPs to find each individual procedure during your audit?  Have you ever thought you could be more organized but feel that you just lack the time?  In this session you’ll discuss obstacles that both small and large plants face and learn about common organizational practices that can help you prepare for your SQF audit, manage it more efficiently and showcase your plant in the best possible light.  Additionally, you'll take home a template for organizing your SOPs electronically by section of the Code.

Safe, Quality…Operations? Flipping the Traditional Business Model to Implement and Maintain SQF Systems

Betty Murie, Quality Assurance and Compliance Manager, Wedderspoon Organic NZ Ltd

Topic Tags: SQF Quality Code, Management Commitment

Quality must be at the heart of all operation decisions and a quality-driven approach ensures the concept of "right first time." Top-down commitment to quality and food safety engenders business transparency, efficient operations and bottom line growth. Hear how the first, and currently the only SQF level 3 honey facility in New Zealand flipped its business model to quality driven operations to add value to its business, ensure compliance, and build consumer trust and loyalty.

Compressed Air Testing: Is it Necessary and How do I Comply with Edition 8?

James Sauseda, Director of Sales, TRI Air Testing 

Topic Tag: SQF Food Safety Code

Do you know what at what levels the gases in compressed air become hazardous and what causes them to become dangerous? Are you familiar with SQF Code requirements regarding compressed air testing, moisture, oil mist and mold and bacteria sampling and testing? Learn what you need to know to comply with sections 11.5, 12.5 and 13.5 of Edition 8 concerning compressed air testing. Hear how and when to test and how to interpret the results. Get advice on creating the documentation needed for a solid monitoring report so you won't be surprised when your facility is audited.     

Alphabet Soup: Digesting FSVP, VQIP, FSMA and SQF to Ensure the Safety of Imported Goods

Carey Allen, Associate Managing Director, NSF International
Frank Schreurs, Regional Representative, Canada &N.W. USA, Safe Quality Food Institute

Topic Tag: Regulatory

Does talk of FSVP, FSMA, VQIP and SQF make your head spin?  How do you make sense of all these confusing acronyms? If you import ingredients from foreign suppliers, this illuminating session will help you sort through the often bewildering requirements of the FSMA-mandated Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) and explain the benefits of participation in the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP). Learn how to apply for VQIP, how it changes your FSVP and what you need to know to make sure you have no gaps in your risk assessment and preventative controls. You’ll leave with a better understanding of the additional assurance and advantages of VQIP participation and how FSVP and VQIP impacts foreign suppliers.

Prevention or a Recall – What’s Your Preference?

Roger Roeth, Executive Technical Officer, Eagle Certification Group
Anne Cooper, Food Technical Manager, Eagle Certification Group

Topic Tag: Allergens

Allergens continue to be the number one reason for recalls in the food industry.  Many allergen programs are weak and don’t address all of the potential concerns in allergen management and control.  Using case studies from companies that have experienced a recall due to allergen mishandling or mislabeling, we’ll take a deep dive into the root causes and lessons learned in each incident. Discuss potential concerns, examine common failures and take home actionable advice on verification methods that will help you strengthen your allergen programs to prevent a recall from occurring in your plant.

Straight From The Frontlines: Combatting Contamination with Sound Sanitary Equipment Design

Alex Brandt, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer, Food Safety Net Services
Aaron M. Pleitner, Ph.D., Principal Scientist, Food Safety Net Services   

Topic Tag: SQF Food Safety Code          

Using real life case studies, this interactive session will guide participants to develop management solutions to combat microbial contamination through sound sanitary equipment design. You’ll also discuss the principles of sanitary design for facilities and equipment and address the new requirements outlined in section 11.2.9 in Edition 8 of the SQF Code.

A Crisis Hits -  Are You Ready?

Kristin Brown, Senior Vice President, Racepoint Global
Norman Alayan, Technical Manager, Bureau Veritas Certification North America, Inc.

Topic Tag: Crisis Management

A major food safety outbreak has occurred. Your product has been recalled. Do you know what to do next to mitigate the situation? Participate in an interactive “war room” to learn the dos and don’ts of preparing for and handling a crisis situation. Facilitated by an expert in crisis communications and public relations, the workshop will walk you through the key immediate actions – what to do in hour one, who to notify internally and externally and what their roles are – as well as the aftermath in the weeks and months ahead. You’ll leave with a better understanding of what could happen in a crisis, understand what it takes to deal with one and who the key audiences are. You’ll also be equipped with a checklist from both an operations and communications perspective, of essential crisis management actions.

Bridging the Gap between Maintenance and Sanitation

Jay Wright, VP Sales, SOMAX, Inc.

Topic Tag: SQF Food Safety Code

In many food processing plants, maintenance and sanitation departments still work independently with little communication and collaboration, leaving a huge gap in a food safety program. Take a deeper dive into common challenges that plants face and practical solutions to better integrate maintenance and sanitation departments into your food safety program. Discuss best practices for standardizing and centrally maintaining SOP`s and SSOP`s across the enterprise and coordinating PM Schedules and the Master Sanitation Schedule. Discover how leveraging IoT (Internet of Things) technology can facilitate better communication and documentation and learn how to analyze data to create actionable insights.

Delivering Trust by The Truckload

Cathy Crawford, President, HACCP Consulting Group
Kelly Vest, Science Director / Senior Epidemiologist, Center for Global Health Engagement, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Hugh Nall, President, of Southern-Ag Carriers, Inc

Topic Tag: SQF Food Safety Code, FSMA

Move it, then prove it. Do you know what documents are essential to demonstrate compliance with Sanitary Transport Regulations and the related SQF Code requirements? Get practical ideas to ensure that requirements are met and promote trust in your brand and products. Learn how driver/employee education can positively impact compliance. Hear from an industry insider as they share real-life challenges and practical advice on delivering safe, quality food.

Managing Compliance Doesn't Have to be Like Herding Cats: How Having the Right Technology Makes All the Difference in Food Safety

Randy Fields, Chairman and CEO, ReposiTrak - Park City Group
Phil Payment, Vice President of Merchandising, Homeland Stores (HAC)
Jackie Caplan Wiggins, Vice President and COO, Frieda's

Topic Tags: Compliance, Technology

How does the food safety supply chain of the past compare and contrast with the food safety supply chain of tomorrow, and how can technology be leveraged to further reduce risk? Hear from a supplier as they share their experiences with collecting and managing records for risk management, FSMA compliance and supply chain vendor management and gain insight from a retailer on how adopting the right technology can help manage product discovery and compliance through proactive automated records management. Participants will hear real-life case studies and have the opportunity to pose questions to the panelists.

Earned Your SQF Certification?  Now Leverage It!

Stephanie Styons, Senior Vice President, Racepoint Global
Sarah Malenich, Director of Sales & Marketing, Safe Quality Food Institute
Michael Roberson, Director of Corporate Quality Assurance, Publix Super Markets, Inc.

Neil Ylanan, Director of Food Safety & Quality, HelloFresh

Topic Tags: Marketing, SQF Food Safety Code, SQF Food Quality Code

Earning SQF Certification is quite an accomplishment, one that requires a great deal of time, effort and commitment. Leveraging it can build credibility, increase brand awareness and secure relationships with future partners and customers. Learn from suppliers who have successfully marketed their certification and see specific examples of successful marketing campaigns. Hear from marketing experts who will discuss the different options for promoting your SQF certification, how to market to key audiences and the resulting benefits. You’ll also get advice on effectively communicating changes to the SQF Code levels that came with Edition 8.

Food Safety Culture 2.0: Strategies and Tools to Help You Measure What You Treasure

Moderator: John David, 3M


Lone Jespersen, PhD, Founder, Principal, Cultivate Food Safety
Melanie Neumann, President and Global Food Safety Attorney, Neumann Risk Services, LLC a Matrix Sciences Company
Lily Chiem, Sr. Director – Quality Systems, Kagome USA
Peter Begg, VP Food Safety and Quality, Glanbia Nutritionals

Topic Tag: Food Safety Culture, Management  Commitment

Evolving and dynamic changes continue to challenge the food industry and its ability to sustain and grow strong food safety cultures.  Social, economic and environmental factors, coupled with changing science are just a few of the many realities companies are facing on their journeys to enhance their food safety cultures.    Leading experts on food safety culture return to the 2018 SQF Conference to discuss cutting edge impacts and innovative tools to address today's challenges relating to this important topic. Learn how leveraging enterprise risk management (ERM) maturity models and strategies with food safety culture models with technology and metrics can help companies leap over hurdles caused by issues such as zero based budgeting, mergers & acquisitions, use of WGS, and more.

Conference Planning Committee

Michelle Anselment
COO, Night Hawk Frozen Foods

Nancy Berger
Business Development Manager, EAGLE Certification Group

Lynn M. Buck
SQF Practitioner , Mother Murphys Laboratories, Inc.

LeAnn Chuboff
Vice President, Technical Affairs, SQF Institute

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

Dr. Darin Detwiler
Assistant Dean and Professor, Northeastern University - College of Professional Studies

Ashley Eisenbeiser
Director, Food and Product Safety Programs, Food Marketing Institute (FMI)

Adam Friedlander
Specialist, Food Safety and Technical Services, Food Marketing Institute (FMI)

Robert Garfield
Senior Vice President, SQF Institute

Melody Ge
Senior Consultant, Kestrel Management Services, LLC

Kristie Grzywinski
Sr. Technical Manager, SQF Institute

Kim Knoll
Business Development Manager, Eurofins Certification

Gwen Lee
Senior Manager, Food Safety Programs

Robert Maldonado Jr
Director of QA & Food Safety, Northgate/ CNG Markets

Sarah A. Malenich
Director, Sales and Marketing, SQF Institute

Joseph Martin
Manager QRC Audit Services, The Hershey Company

Jennifer L. McCreary
Technical Manager, Training Services, NSF International

David Melton
Director, Food Safety and Quality, Pegasus Foods,Inc.

Dr. Hilary Thesmar
Vice President, Food Safety Programs, Food Marketing Institute (FMI)

Shalonda Swearengen
Quality Specialist , ConAgra Foods

Mrs. Melissa Trezza
Sr. Certification and Compliance Manager, Mérieux NutriSciences Certification

Christian Wonders
Food Safety / Quality Manager, The F.L. Emmert Company

Amanda Bond-Thorley (Staff Coordinator)
Director, Education, Food Marketing Institute (FMI

Speaker Resources

Committee Charter