It is the best way to learn and improve processes and make sure organisations are where they should be, said Alondra Palomino, conference producer at the European Networking Group (E.N.G).
General Mills, Ferrero, ADM, Dr. Oetker, Danone Nutricia and 3M Food Safety were some of the speakers at the two-day conference.
Farm to fork theme
The theme of the Global Food Safety summit in Madrid was from farm to fork, Palomino told FoodQualityNews.com.
“What we really wanted to cover was everything stemming from the suppliers’ perspective to the producers and even the retailers perspective on food safety,” she said.
“And to try and get a view on how these different entities have really similar challenges but different strategies to deal with these challenges.
“Yet they don’t always come together to discuss how to deal with these problems that they have and that’s essentially what we wanted to address in this summit.”
E.N.G said the conference was to discover trends within food safety including supply chain issues and scientific and regulatory developments.
Food safety importance
Palomino said while the bigger names are important they also tried to include the smaller players to see how they are handling food safety.
“It is top of mind, not just for the big companies but all food companies whether they are dealing with producing, supplying or on the retail side.”
Palomino said often attendees say they are so busy with day to day work that they rarely have time to read case studies about what is going on in other countries.
“So for them to hear what is going on in other markets in other companies and other slightly different industries, I would hope it is helpful for them to learn potential possibilities on how collaborations can be made and lessons learned from previous crises that other countries have experienced,” she said.
The difference between the first day and the second in terms of interactions is interesting, especially regarding a lunch discussion topic on the second day around allergens, according to Palomino.
“It’s not usually until we are a little bit into the conference that you see more communication, people coming out of their shells, talking a bit more but I think the lunch was a great example of how, especially if you introduce a topic like we had at the tables, it brings out conversations that would not have taken place via email,” she said.
“I don’t think a supplier from the Netherlands would email a producer here in Spain and say ‘Hi, I don’t know you but what do you think about this topic?’ and those are some of the collaborations that can only happen when you’re physically able to interact with people at a conference.”
Palomino pointed to speakers at the summit who identified food safety as non-competitive.
“It was an interesting thing as I could see people nodding their heads, it is not something that’s discussed very often but people collaborating together can make the system stronger and make it more efficient and safer for all consumers.”