Lehi, UT – Associated Food Stores was well-represented at the Food Safety Task Force’s second annual Food Safety Conference held at the Thanksgiving Point show barn on April 11-12. The conference brought together a wide range of participants, including restaurants, retailers, convenience stores, coffee shops, regulators, and public health representatives, with 225 people in attendance. The proceedings featured renowned speakers, informative panels, and opportunities for industry professionals to exchange insights on food safety regulations and best practices. 

AFS was proud to have three representatives at the conference, including Rob Suarez, asset protection manager, Sam Henrie, lead research specialist,  and Thomas Horne, marketing manager in ecommerce. Both Sam and Thomas presented topics in their respective departments. 

One of the key speakers at the conference was Bill Marler, JD, a renowned attorney with over 30 years of experience in the food safety sector. Marler shared stories of cases where he prosecuted restaurants with serious food safety violations and highlighted the importance of creating new legislation to prevent food safety incidents from occurring in the first place. “The difference between Bill and others is that Bill is at the forefront of creating new legislation, so food safety incidents just don’t happen. He’s the real deal. He is a champion of food safety,” said Rob. 

Sam Henrie presented at a panel discussion on product labeling, where she emphasized the importance of adhering to regulations and guidelines from the FDA and the USDA. She acknowledged navigating these regulations can sometimes be like “reading a foreign language,” but the panel provided an opportunity for retailers to consult with regulators and discuss the challenges of conforming with food safety regulations. “It’s really important to have AFS front and center in the food safety community, and to demonstrate our efforts in offering goods and products with the consumer’s health and wellness needs in mind,” said Sam. 

One of the key topics of discussion at the conference was foodborne illness and how to report it. Regulators provided further clarification and training on this topic, aiming to foster greater cooperation between retailers and regulators in preventing foodborne outbreaks and maintaining compliance. The conference committee, which is made up of members from academia, regulators, and industry, decides on the topics to be presented. “When we started talking about what presenters we wanted, I kept going – ‘Gosh, we have this person at AFS who is so knowledgeable in their field and covers a lot of stores,’” shared Rob, who is one of the committee members. 

The two-day conference was a success, as it provided a platform for participants to discuss, learn, and promote mutual understanding and cooperation for the common good of preventing foodborne outbreaks. AFS is proud to be actively engaged in the food safety community, showcasing its commitment to offering safe and healthy products to consumers. The conference served as an important opportunity for retailers, regulators, and industry experts to come together, share knowledge, and work towards a safer food environment.