The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Conference 2024 was a pivotal event that brought together leaders, experts, and stakeholders from across the globe to delve into the latest advancements and challenges in ensuring food safety. The conference showcased how technology, global alliances, sustainability, and navigating standards are shaping the future of food safety.

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), a Coalition of Action of The Consumer Goods Forum and one of the world’s largest networks on food safety, held its annual conference from April 8-11 in Singapore. It brought together the worldwide food community, from industry leaders to technology experts and policymakers, to reaffirm their strength and continuous collective drive to reach the mission of “safe food for everybody.”

In an era marked by significant technological breakthroughs, last year’s GFSI Conference brought critical actors in the food safety ecosystem together to share insights into how technology was helping to shape innovative solutions to long-standing food safety problems and discuss potential solutions to future challenges.

“Over the past 24 years, the GFSI Conference had become the ‘must-attend’ event of the global food safety calendar, and last year’s conference in Singapore was no exception,” Erica Sheward, director of GFSI at the CGF, said. “We were looking forward to welcoming all the leaders in global food safety to what I think was our best program yet. We focused on the challenges and opportunities that technology could bring in helping to solve the food safety concerns facing us in an ever-evolving world and discussed emerging issues, including the strategies the food industry would need to deploy as the impacts of climate change threatened previous, tried-and-tested approaches to food safety management.”

Hosted in Singapore, internationally renowned for being a hub of innovation with a diverse culture, last year’s conference covered four main themes:

  1. Innovation as a Keystone in Food Safety: Innovation represented our strongest ally in combating emerging food safety hazards. Highlighted at GFSI 2024, emerging technologies like AI were redefining the landscape for tracking, testing, and assuring food safety. Through practical case studies and discussions led by global experts representing multiple disciplines in the field, the conference delved into how these advancements had the potential to support existing systems to manage food safety risks but also to support the development of preventative strategies to tackle emerging risks before they became a global crisis.
  2. The Power of Global Alliances: As global food supply chains became ever more complex and disrupted, the unique power of GFSI provided a forum for global collaboration on food safety by uniting all the essential actors in the food safety system, including regulators, policymakers, academics, the food industry, and those developing and delivering cutting-edge solutions to emerging food safety challenges.
  3. Sustainability: A Pillar of Food Safety: The critical intersection between food safety and food security grew ever closer. Attendees heard firsthand from international experts about why the drive for sustainable approaches to food security must always have food safety outcomes at their core and how those two important and interrelated outcomes could align.
  4. Navigating standards: The whole food sector had to navigate standards and regulatory practices in the food safety space, including how these varied by region. Attendees learned from a range of examples shared by their peers and others in the sector, particularly in Singapore, India, and Australia.

Highlight sessions and speakers across the three-day program included:

  • The Role of AI in Tackling Food Fraud with Dr. Yinqing MA, Director of Compliance Policy Staff, Office of Compliance, CFSAN, Food & Drug Administration, United States of America.
  • Special Keynote Address: Dr. Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, Ministry of Transport, Republic of Singapore.
  • Special Keynote Speech – What business are you in? Redefining Health Professionals: The Role of the Food Industry in Wellness, with Patrick Wall, Professor of Public Health, University College Dublin.
  • Foodborne Pathogens as Adulterants: Is this the way to play the food safety game? with Julian M. Cox, Associate Dean (International – Emerging Markets), Faculty of Engineering, University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney).

Other examples of leadership, ingenuity, and innovation speaking at the event included: The Coca-Cola Company, Danone, IFPA, Mars Incorporated, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Pick n Pay, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Walmart China, World Health Organization, and more.

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