UACES Facebook Conference to address cyber threats to food system; new ways to fight produce contamination
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Conference to address cyber threats to food system; new ways to fight produce contamination

By Dave Edmark
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast facts:

    • Arkansas Association for Food Protection to host educational meeting
    • Event set for Sept. 8-10 at Fayetteville
    • New FDA rules to be discussed
    • Student research posters will be recognized

(465 words)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – New ways to fight food contamination after harvest and developing means to deal with cyber threats to food data are among the issues on the agenda for the Sept. 8-10 Arkansas Association for Food Protection educational conference.

Organized by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, the conference was recognized last year by the International Association for Food Protection as its Best Affiliate Overall Meeting. “We intend to highlight issues that impact food safety both currently as well as those that are looming in the future such as cyber security and the protection of critical data sets in the food industry,” said Steven Ricke, director of the Division of Agriculture Center for Food Safety. Ricke is chairing a session on emerging issues in food safety. 

This year’s event will begin with a keynote address at 6 p.m. Sept 8 by Gary Acuff, director of the Texas A&M University Center for Food Safety, who will discuss validation of food safety improvements.

Issues surrounding produce microbiology and safety will be discussed during one of the sessions.

“Fresh produce is at the forefront of food safety discussions with regards to implementing and enforcing the Produce Safety Rule included in the new Food Safety Modernization Act,” said Kristen Gibson, Division of Agriculture assistant professor of food science, who is chairing the session.

“We have brought together three researchers working on various aspects of food safety in the fresh produce supply chain,” Gibson continued. “Those in attendance at AAFP can expect to learn about the unique characteristics and ecology of select pathogens that are commonly associated with contamination of fresh produce at the field production level as well as post-harvest interventions including novel antimicrobial washes.”

 Presentations and panel discussions will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 9 and from 8 a.m. to noon Sept. 10. Conference registration will be accepted at The full agenda is posted at Corporate sponsors of the conference are Roka Biosciences, Land O’Frost, OK Foods,, Qiagen, Mesa Laboratories, Safe Foods Corp., Jones-Hamilton Co., Edge Biologicals and World Bioproducts.

 Other sessions will cover retail food safety and pet food and animal feed food safety. The session on the morning of Sept. 10 will examine sanitation issues and new federal Food and Drug Administration rules being issued under the Food Safety Modernization Act. Industry officials will discuss preparations for new kinds of FDA inspections, establishing food safety documentation in a company, managing preventative control programs and overall compliance.

Research posters by UA students will be presented during the conference with awards presented following judging by food safety scientists. The poster competition is sponsored by Safe Foods Corp., 3D Corporate Solutions, IEH Laboratories, George’s Inc., Sea Star International, the UA System Division of Agriculture Center for Food Safety and Simmons Foods.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. 

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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