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November 14, 2010

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Sigma Xi Holds Food Safety and Security Symposium in Raleigh

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – More than 20 nationally prominent experts from academia, industry and government led the discussion November 11-13 for Sigma Xi's symposium on Food Safety and Security: Science and Policy at the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. The symposium was held during the 2010 Sigma Xi Annual Meeting and International Research Conference.

Keynote speakers included Gale A. Buchanan, dean and director emeritus, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of Georgia; Starnes E. Walker III, director of research, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Daniel J. Gustafson, director, Liaison Office for North America, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; John T. Hoffman, senior research fellow, National Center for Food Protection and Defense; and Wendelyn Jones, senior director, human health policy, CropLife America.

"The health and socio-economic impact of issues around food safety and security are enormous," said Sigma Xi President Joseph A. Whittaker. "As such, any reasonable attempt towards addressing the enormous complexities, challenges and opportunities involved will require multi-level, multi- and interdisciplinary approaches to find needed consensus."

He said the symposium provided a forum for experts and key players to begin a dialogue that will ultimately inform, as well as raise the awareness of, policymakers and the general public about the implications and critical importance of these issues. As the multidisciplinary honor society of research scientists and engineers, Sigma Xi is in a unique position to guide this discussion.

News headlines have raised public awareness of food safety issues, as Salmonella in eggs and tainted produce have sickened hundreds. A recent study published by the The Pew Charitable Trusts found that food-borne illnesses cost $152 billion a year in the U.S. alone. It's estimated that 76 million Americans annually are sickened by the food they eat.

Meanwhile, the federal government has pledged to step up efforts to enhance food safety. Technology was brought to bear earlier this year when frequent-shopper cards were used at grocery stores for the first time to trace the source of a Salmonella outbreak. Unfortunately, the public-health debate often neglects the science behind such outbreaks.

In an award-winning American Scientist article called "Safer Salads," from the November-December 2007 issue, the authors found that sanitation can break down during growth, harvest, washing, storage, transport or display of fruits and vegetables. They described new research into postharvest treatments that could minimize consumer risk in the near future.

Food security has emerged as the unprecedented challenge of feeding the world's growing population. This complex topic stands at the intersection of many disciplines. Challenges include the physical, biological and socio-economic constraints that limit food production and the ability of people to obtain a healthy diet. Chronic food insecurity often means famine and hunger.

On Thursday, November 11, four Science Cafes were held in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill that complemented Sigma Xi's food safety and security symposium. These informal gatherings were free and open to the public. (See details below.)

Call for White Papers on Food Security
In addition, Sigma Xi co-sponsored with PHS Group, Inc., a management and technology firm based in Silver Spring, Maryland, a call for white papers on food security and sustainability. The author(s) of the most compelling paper will be offered the opportunity to be paid consultants in the implementation of a pilot program that will address the critical issue of food security in Hispaniola and the Caribbean Basin Countries.

Call for Student Concept Papers on Food Security
As part of its sponsorship of this Sigma Xi symposium, PHS Group, Inc. promoted a competition for student concept papers that present creative ideas addressing the critical issue of food security in Haiti. The authors of the top three papers received monetary prizes.

A Sigma Xi Symposium * November 11-13, 2010
Raleigh Convention Center * Raleigh, North Carolina

Keynote Addresses

Agricultural Productivity Strategies for the Future:
Addressing U.S. and Global Challenges

Gale A. Buchanan
Dean and Director Emeritus
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
University of Georgia
For the CAST Publication click here. For the videos click here.

Challenges in Securing the Nation's Food Supply:
A DHS S&T Perspective
Starnes E. Walker III
Director of Research
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Global Issues on a Safe Food Supply
Daniel J. Gustafson
Director, Liaison Office for North America
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Food Safety and Defense in a Global Supply System
John T. Hoffman
Senior Research Fellow
National Center for Food Protection and Defense

Science and Policy to Drive Research for Food in the Future
Wendelyn Jones
Senior Director, Human Health Policy
CropLife America

Quality Assurance & Food Production Systems Panel (Part 1)

Produce Food Safety: Challenges of Sampling,
Prevention and Detection

Brian Zomorodi
Vice President, Technology and Quality
Ready Pac Produce, Inc.

The Challenges Sanitation Practices Play in Controlling
Cross Contamination in Fresh Produce Processing

Barry A. Eisenberg
Vice President, Food Safety Services
United Fresh Produce Association

Strategies for Ensuring the Safety of Food Ingredients
Benjamin R. Warren
Director, Platform Food Safety and Microbiology,
Research Quality and Innovation
ConAgra Foods, Inc.

Quality Assurance & Food Production Systems Panel (Part 2)

Best Practices in Retail Food Safety—A Grocery Retailer's Perspective
Chamus Burnside-Savazzini
Food and Occupational Safety Manager
Food Lion

Restaurant Food Safety Is a Public Health Responsibility
Hal King
Senior Manager
Chick-fil-A Inc.

Quality Assurance: Best Practices of Food Industry
Leaders and the Challenge to Science

Lisa Jo Lupo
Managing Editor
QA Magazine

Food Availability and Security Panel

Chemical Food Safety: Current Research Efforts to Mitigate
Drug and Contaminant Residues in Food Animal Products

Jennifer Davis
Assistant Professor of Equine Medicine
North Carolina State University

Controversies Over Genetically Modified Foods
at the Science/Society Interface
Lisa Weasel
Associate Professor of Biology
Portland State University

Unintended Consequences of Pathogen Control Efforts
in Intensive Food Production and Processing Systems

Sophia Kathariou
Professor of Food Science and Microbiology
North Carolina State University

Current Research: The Academic Perspective Panel

Fletcher Arritt, III
Assistant Professor
Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences
North Carolina State University

A Holistic Approach to Understand the Challenges and
Impact of Antimicrobial Resistance on Food Safety

Siddhartha Thakur
Assistant Professor
Population Health and Pathobiology
North Carolina State University

Current Regulatory Affairs: The NGO Perspective Panel

The Role of Audits in Food Safety
Barbara VanRenterghem
Editorial Director
Food Safety Magazine

J. Joseph Corby
Executive Director
Association of Food and Drug Officials

Food Recalls at Any Cost? The Impacts
of Our Current Recall System

Gregory Pallaske
Director, Regulatory Compliance,
Food Safety and Quality Assurance
U.S. Foodservice

Changing Faces of Food Safety Regulation
for Processing Plants in 2010

Donna F. Schaffner
Associate Director
Rutgers University Food Innovation Center

Continuing Education Units (CEU)
12 CEU for American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists, ARPAS

Related Science Cafes in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill

On Thursday, November 11, four Science Cafes were held at four different locations in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill that complement Sigma Xi's food safety and security symposium. These informal gatherings were free and open to the public.

Bacteria in Your Food: The Helpful and the Harmful
Thursday, November 11, 6:00 p.m.
Speaker: Sophia Kathariou, North Carolina State University
Location: Mitch’s Tavern, 2426 Hillsborough St., Raleigh

Agriculture, Nutrition and Food Safety: Can They Work Together Toward a Common Goal?
Thursday, November 11, 6:45 p.m.
Speaker: Daniel Gustafson, UN Food and Agriculture Organization
Location: Tir Na Nog, 218 S. Blount St., Raleigh

Hunger in the Midst of Plenty: Food Security in North Carolina
Thursday, November 11, 7:00 p.m.
Speakers: Maureen M. Berner, UNC School of Government, and Sharon Paynter, Department of Political Science, ECU
Location: Back Bar at Top of the Hill, 100 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill

Farm to Fork: Fighting Obesity With Local Food
Thursday, November 11, 7:00 p.m.
Speaker: Alice Ammerman, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
Location: Satisfaction Restaurant, 905 W. Main St. #37, Durham

About Sigma Xi
Founded in 1886, Sigma Xi is the international honor society of research scientists and engineers, with more than 500 chapters at colleges and universities, government laboratories and industry research centers. Membership is by invitation, in recognition of research potential or achievement. Over the years, more than 200 Sigma Xi members have received the Nobel Prize. In addition to publishing American Scientist, the non-profit society awards hundreds of grants annually to student researchers and sponsors a variety of programs that support science and engineering.


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