As part of its ongoing commitment to food safety leadership, Maple Leaf Foods hosted its 11th annual Food Safety Symposium on October 26th, 2021 in partnership with the Alliance to Stop Foodborne Illness.
The event, hosted virtually this year, took on a different format, but the goal remained the same to advance the safety of the food system in Canada, North America and globally.
“Our annual Maple Leaf Foods Food Safety Symposium strives to create a collaborative atmosphere that engages people along the food supply chain, from the C-suite to front-line associates, in building a safer global food supply,” said Randy Huffman, Ph.D., Chief Food Safety and Sustainability Officer at Maple Leaf Foods.
Sharing stories of foodborne illness
With the theme “Speak to the Heart to Move the Mind: How Foodborne Illness Storytelling Can Lead to Better Food Safety Outcomes”, Maple Leaf Foods and the Alliance to Stop Foodborne Illness delivered a unique agenda that gave individuals who experienced life-threatening foodborne illnesses a platform to tell their personal stories.
Lorens Kresic and AnnMarie McDade, STOP Foodborne Illness constituent, set the stage for the day with their powerful, emotional stories about the consequences of failed food-safety measures.
Kresic’s life and family were dramatically impacted 11 years ago when he became critically ill from a foodborne illness. He said that even though the violent intestinal pain, relentless stomach cramping and years of drastic medical treatment ended, it didn’t mean that his health was back to normal. “I still suffer to this day,” he said.
In 1999, McDade tragically lost her son, James Daniel, to Listeria monocytogenes 22 weeks into her pregnancy. “An unwavering focus on food safety is critically important, and through partnerships and honest dialogue with companies across the food supply chain, a world without foodborne illness could be within our reach,” she said.
The speakers’ words underscored why food safety must be a central focus of the food system.
Food safety part of company culture
In addition to hearing impactful stories, food industry professionals from companies including Mars, Conagra Brands and Maple Leaf Foods shared insights and strategies about driving company food safety culture from the top while supporting and engaging front-line employees.
CEOs from Chipotle, Kellogg Company, Miniat Holdings and Maple Leaf Foods discussed what motivates them as leaders to prioritize food safety at their companies.
For Brian Niccol, CEO of Chipotle, food safety is part of the vocabulary of the company and it’s never okay to lower the standard. “When you are bringing in new employees every day, you cannot be giving an inch on what the standards are. When you show up, you have to show that you hold yourself to that standard. This is important in our business and we are always trying to figure out ways to get better.”
The symposium concluded with a panel discussion with U.S. and Canadian government representatives moderated by Lone Jespersen of Cultivate. Conrad Choiniere PhD, Director of the Office of Analytics and Outreach, Food and Drug Administration’s Centre for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Sandra Eskin Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Siddika Mithani President of Canadian Food Inspection Agency spoke about the role regulatory agencies play in ensuring the safe and wholesome supply of food to consumers around the world.
Maple Leaf Foods is looking forward to hosting the 12th annual Food Safety Symposium in 2022. The date will be announced soon. For more details, please visit www.mapleleaffoods.com/our-commitments/safe-food/