Last month, the Conference for Food Protection (CFP), brought together representatives from the food industry, government, academia, and consumer organizations to discuss emerging food safety problems and potential solutions at their 2016 Biennial Meeting in Boise, Idaho. Every other year, CFP provides meeting attendees with an open forum to discuss food safety standards from any source, while seeking to balance the interests of regulators and industry. As a follow-up to each meeting, the CFP Executive Board ensures the proper submission of the previously accepted recommendations to the Food & Drug Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other relevant decision makers for consideration and implementation. In addition, committees formed by the Conference and Executive Board are charged to further develop recommendations for submission at the next Biennial Meeting.
This year’s meeting convened over 500 attendees (representatives from North Carolina are pictured on the left) and approximately 120 issues were submitted. Approximately 65% of the issues were accepted as written or amended, and presented to the assembly for a formal vote. Submitted and reviewed issues included three main categories: 1) laws and regulations; 2) administration, education, and certification; and 3) science and technology. Various recommendations within each category ranged from requesting the development of new regulations and guidance on various topics (e.g. outdoor food preparation and service) to amending existing regulations (e.g., clarifying the Food Code to better emphasize that plant food includes more than just fruits and vegetables). Click the following links to view all of the issues submitted this year or learn more about the submission process. Individuals and agencies interested in impacting food safety standards should get involved with CFP and look to attend their next Biennial Meeting. CFP offers multiple engagement opportunities with varying levels of commitment, especially pertinent for local food regulatory staff. These include becoming a member, submitting an issue, joining a committee (recruitment is open until May 28), or joining a council.
David Lawrence and Andre Pierce, provide great personal insight on how individuals can take advantage of CFP resources. Lawrence, a fourteen-year CFP member and a dedicated Biennial Meeting attendee, from Northern Virginia, describes the organization as “a mechanism for all stakeholders in the integrated food safety system to work together.”
He adds that since his first CFP meeting, “[he] was immediately engaged by the consensus building process with industry and regulatory stakeholders during the issue deliberation process, workshops, and caucuses.” Lawrence is currently completing his 2014-2016 term as a member on multiple committees, and will serve as the Council Vice-Chair and Chair of the Program Standards Committee for the upcoming biennium.
“One of my primary goals is to work with the other CFP regional local regulatory members to increase local regulatory membership,” Lawrence explained. “Remember, you don’t have to attend the Biennial meeting to be a part of the CFP process, membership has both its privileges and responsibilities.”
Andre Pierce, from Wake County Environmental Services in North Carolina, is on the other side of the spectrum as a first-time CFP meeting attendee. He described his experience at the 2016 meeting as “impressive and exciting.”
“I was really impressed by the respect, thoroughness and rigor of the deliberations,” Pierce said. “North Carolina stakeholders presented six issues; four were accepted. It is exciting to know that our local issues were heard and may contribute to food safety nationwide.”
Learn more about the Conference for Food Protection and how you can get involved on their website.