According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), foodborne illnesses remain an important, potentially deadly, concern. The agency estimates that each year, about one in six Americans will get sick from consuming contaminated food or beverage products, and that such illnesses drain the economy of nearly $15 billion annually.

With the safety of the U.S. food supply and the products consumers enjoy at risk, the Food Safety Summit (produced by Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery's sister publication Food Safety Magazine) provides industry professionals a chance to gather, collectively examine challenges, and discuss solutions. Taking place May 8–11 in Rosemont, IL, the meeting will convene leaders from all over the field, including:

To learn more about the issues Food Safety Summit presenters and attendees will tackle, show features, and more, Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery connected with Gillian Kelleher, CEO of Kelleher Consultants and chair of the Food Safety Summit Educational Advisory Board.

Jenni Spinner: Why is food safety more important than ever?

Gillian Kelleher, Kelleher ConsultingGillian Kelleher: The food industry’s #1 priority must be to provide safe food for consumers everywhere. In these challenging times, with the growing world population, global unrest, food scarcity, and climate change, labor shortages, lingering supply chain issues post-COVID, more than ever we need to strive to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks from happening. Food safety is not competitive and so, all stakeholders working together on food safety is the way to go. Prevention is the key and education; science and technology solutions enable us to do that better. The Food Safety Summit is about listening and providing the industry with practical food safety solutions. 

JS: Please share an overview of the Food Safety Summit—show features, who should attend, and the benefits of heading to Rosemont for the summit.

GK: Now celebrating our 25th year, the Food Safety Summit gathers leaders and key stakeholders from the government, regulatory, and academia communities as well as growers, processors, retailers, distributors, foodservice, testing laboratories, importing/exporting, law firms, and other food safety professionals to learn from subject matter experts and trainers, exchange ideas and find solutions to current job challenges.

Attend the 2023 Food Safety Summit in Rosemont, IL, this May to take part in a three-day comprehensive educational program, pre-conference certification programs, an expansive Exhibit Hall packed with progressive solution providers, and exclusive networking events to help you make meaningful industry connections.

JS: Could you please tell us about any new events or show features?

GK: The trade show floor will feature over 200 solution providers showcasing the latest products and services for food safety professionals including Gold Sponsor Purell; Silver Sponsor InstantRecall, and Bronze Sponsors Crunchtime and RedZone. There will be educational opportunities on the show floor in the Solutions Stage and Tech Tent with presentations on advanced technology solutions offered throughout the three-day event. The Community Hub, in the center of the floor, will give attendees a chance to gather, network, and listen to several Food Safety Magazine podcast interviews with leaders in the industry including Michael Taylor, Mindy Brashears, Ph.D., Deb Kane, Sandra Eskin, Harshavardhan Thippareddi, Ph.D., and Anne Marie McNamara.

The conference program, developed by an esteemed Educational Advisory Board (EAB), will feature thoughtful and inspiring education program offering sessions that look back on the last 30 years after the Jack in the Box incident and look forward to future innovations in robotics, AI, cold chain, and much more. “Risk Culture: How to Balance Risks for the Safety of Consumers, Team Members, and the Environment” will be the focus of the keynote presentation. Michael Eckhardt (senior vice president, chief legal and risk officer, and secretary, Wawa Inc.), Randy Huffman, Ph.D. (chief food safety and sustainability officer, Maple Leaf Foods), and David McDonald (president and chief operating officer of OSI Group) will join Lone Jespersen, Ph.D. (principal, Cultivate SA), who will lead this important conversation.

Attendees to the 2023 Summit will have access to industry leaders, be able to gain certificates in courses, see the latest technological advances offered by leading vendors, network with their peers and speakers, and hear thought-provoking education sessions.

JS: Please share any sessions or speakers you would like to highlight, as well as why you think they’re particularly worth attendees’ time and attention.

GK: On Tuesday, May 9, the opening general session will be a three-hour workshop on “Got Root Cause,” where attendees will hear from subject matter experts from the FDA, Cargill, Dole Food Company, USDA, Yum Brands, and J&J Snack Foods, who will review how getting to the root cause is a cost-effective approach to management/operations in any organization. 

Four additional workshops will be offered in the afternoon focused on “Developing Food Safety Leadership Skills—Building the Workforce of Tomorrow,” “Recent Advancements in Sanitation for the Prevention and Control of Food Safety Hazards,” “Looking Forward and Looking Back: How Companies can Establish a Robust and Compliant Traceability Program,” and “AI, Data Gathering, and Analysis—What are you Using AI For.” For workshop details, click here.

In addition, the 11th annual town hall, “A Conversation with Top Regulators and Advisors,” will be held on Thursday, May 11, with insights from Donald A. Prater, D.V.M., FDA; Sandra Eskin, USDA; Steven Mandernach, Association of Food and Drug Officials; and Robert Tauxe, M.D., M.P.H., CDC. I will be moderating the town hall.

The Summit’s closing session on Thursday afternoon will focus on “Legal Insights to Sharpen Your Food Safety Focus—and Stay Out of the Courtroom.” The panel discussion will feature prominent attorneys who work on behalf of consumers and industry—with all advocating on the side of food safety. These internationally recognized expert lawyers will discuss the common gaps or weaknesses they see in company operations, culture, and regulatory adherence that lead to adverse events, such as foodborne illness outbreaks and recalls. 

JS: Then, please tell us about the certification courses—what topic areas/orgs are on the agenda?

GK: The Summit will kick off on Monday, May 8 with four certificate and certification courses including NEHA’s Certified Professional–Food Safety (CP-FS) Credential Review Course, Food Fraud Prevention Workshop and Certificate Course, The HACCP Alliance’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Certificate Training, and FSMA FSPCA Foreign Supplier Verification Program. For details and registration, click here.

 JS: Is there time for fun, either as part of the official FSS agenda or after hours?

GK: Our opening night reception will be held on the trade show floor and offer food and drinks for a casual setting for our attendees and exhibitors to mingle and network. On Wednesday night we will host the Food Safety Summit Gives Back. This is an opportunity for Summit attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors to give back to the community.

This year we are supporting Stop Foodborne Illness and the wonderful work they have been doing for 30 years. The money donated goes to support the organization’s vision of “A World Without Foodborne Illness” and their mission to be the voice of people affected by foodborne illness,” by collaborating with partners in academia, the food industry, and government to prevent foodborne illness. Stop advocates for effective food safety policy and facilitates culture change to increase food safety.

JS: Is there anything you’d like to add?

GK: Registration is open at There are one-, two-, and three-day conference packages available and group discounts. A conference pass provides access to the interactive half-day workshops, 27 in-depth education sessions, certificate, and certification courses, the keynote and Town Hall presentations, lunch in the exhibit hall, two networking receptions, access to 200+ solution providers, free education in the Solutions Stage and Tech Tent, and NEHA continuing education credits.