Lessons Learned From the Food Safety Summit and the NRA: A Physician’s Perspective

chicago skyline

I had the pleasure of attending the Food Safety Summit held annually in Chicago in early May. I was impressed. The Summit brought together governmental, hospitality, legal, and vendor food safety experts all with the apparent motivation to discuss and learn how to make our food safer from farm or production to the dining table.

While there have been great strides in reducing food borne illness, there are new and increasingly complex evolving risks.

Here are some key lessons I learned:

  • The international human food chain is complex.
  • There are multiple points of potential contamination.
  • Some of those riskier points are in need of tighter scrutiny.
  • There are evolving issues such as a food fraud, the trend for local farm to restaurant table, increased demand for restaurant to home deliver and efforts to reduce food waste by donating that are moving food safety challenges.

While more regulation and stricter standards in our food chain may create complexities, they should be welcomed in the interest of public safety.

At both the Food Safety Summit and the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show held ten days later, I had the honor of meeting highly motivated vendors sharing the goal of making it easier for food preparers and food servers to do their jobs while protecting the public safety.

While I explored thousands of booths, some companies, their representatives and their products or services, caught my attention:

  • AccuTemp offers steam heated kettles and skillets that provide consistent heating across the entire cooking surface, thereby reducing the risk of undercooked foods.
  • Extreme Microbial Technologies provides a product with high success rate for penetrating hard to clean surfaces.
  • Ary offers utensils with color coded handles, reducing the risk of cross contamination during food preparation.
  • Eagle Protect provides food safe disposable gloves and clothing and are exploring innovative ways of glove delivery.
  • McCloud rids facilities of pests that are potential vectors of food borne illness.
  • Allertrain.com conducts allergy free and gluten free training.

I don’t have any financial interest in any of these companies but believe their collective commitment to improving food safety are admirable and worthy of applauding.

The two conferences were fascinating and educational indeed!



Author: Dr. Harlan Stueven, MD

Harlan Stueven M.D. is a Board-Certified Emergency physician with sub-specialization in Environmental Toxicology and Board Certification in Medical Toxicology. Starting his career in the USAF, he served as a Flight Surgeon and Environmental Health Consultant Physician where one of his duties was monitoring food safety. In his nearly 40-year practice, he treated a range of medical, surgical and poisoning emergencies. He has been a Medical Director and/or Chairman of several hospital-based Emergency Medicine Departments, served as the President of Emergency and Environmental Medicine consulting group, a physician group Chief Financial Officer and sat on many national, state and local committees. Dr. Stueven founded Dining Grades and the Dining Safety Alliance to improve food safety by increasing awareness of food borne illness and the formation of partnerships within the food industry. He is a consultant to the Wisconsin Retail Food Establishment Grading Work Group; a Co-investigator in a CDC funded “Evaluation of Health Department Restaurant Inspection Programs” project. He has presented at several National, State and Regional conferences on restaurant grading and food safety. He is an accomplished leader, medical researcher, a champion of process improvement, author, and national and international speaker.

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