iels reiterated one of Taylor’s keynote presentation points: that too many institutions involved with food safety are operating with a “stovepipe” mentality and that there needs to be more communication and collaboration, particularly among institutions operating at different points along the farm-to-table continuum. Daniels commented on the role of audits, arguing that while audits serve an important verification and validation purpose, they are not preventive measures and therefore should not be treated as such. Buyers (including distributors, retailers, and consumers) need to bear some preventive responsibility as well. Daniels also commented on the importance of food safety science and the need to generate trust between industry and regulators so that company-generated data could be shared and utilized in the effort to improve food safety.
Daniels’s talk was followed with a presentation on Risk Management for Thermally-Processed Foods by Donald Zink of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). Zink used thermally processed canned foods to illustrate what could be accomplished with food safety when “all of the pieces are in place.” Canned foods are among the safest processed foods for three reasons: the science is complete, the packaging is well-developed, and consumers are well-educated. Zink identified the first of these factors—the science—as the most important, suggesting that most other processed foods are not as safe as canned foods because the science is still lacking. Not only do we not have a complete understanding of how contamination occurs in many cases, Zink argued, we do not always have the tools necessary for interrupting those contamination events.
In the third presentation of this session, Lessons Learned in the Meat Industry: Control of Listeria in RTE Meat and Poultry Products, Randall Huffman, President of the American Meat Institute (AMI) Foundation provided an overview of the history of Listeria control in ready-to-eat (RTE) meat products and the U.S. meat industry and U.S. governmental responses. He described the AMI’s recognition of a “Cycle of Control,” a four-stage cycle involving (1) awareness and detection of the problem/pathogen, (2) enlightenment and the beginning of an understanding of the problem/pathogen, (3) prevention and the implementation of interventions and, finally, (4) predictive measurement of the impact of those interventions and continued learning about which interventions are most effective. Currently, with respect to Listeria control in RTE meat products, the U.S. meat industry is in the final state of the cycle, with the number of Listeria recalls and the prevalence of Listeria in RTE meat products both showing significant downward trends. Huffman described in detail many of the specific steps that the meat industry has taken over these past 20 years in its effort to control Listeria contamination, emphasizing the critically important role of using science and data to inform decision making.
In the fourth and final presentation of the session, Consumer Behav-