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Matthew Botos, ConnectFood
FST Soapbox

Innovation Fundamentals Start With A Food Safety Foundation

By Matthew Botos
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Matthew Botos, ConnectFood

Food Safety. Two powerful words that hold the key to growth for food and beverage in the Chicago region (Chicagoland) in 2018. And when said differently, they can mean so many different things.

Everyone eats. Is your food safe? Do you want to consume safe food? How do you manage the safety of your food? How long is my food safe (my mom calls and asks this all the time)? All good questions and something that can be terrifying to the thousands of local companies and millions of consumers in any given area. The Chicagoland community understands that availability of proper meals and nutrition can be an issue for certain areas, and we are tackling that as a community in other efforts.

Food safety is impactful to the farmers (growers), manufacturers, and especially consumers. Think about when you walk into a grocery store. Every product you look at is mandated to have some type of food safety risk management plan. The consumers of today and tomorrow are demanding healthier, clean label, safe items. Farm-to-table is more than a trend; it’s a way of life. My belief is that food safety is “basics done well” and there are tens of thousands of professionals in Industry, academia and government working to make this happen. I try to draw the analogy that the food and beverage industry is a like an iceberg—we only really see the tip of that iceberg being the large national names that everyone recognizes. FDA has an estimated 125,000 registered facilities. This does not include facilities regulated by USDA and other unregistered facilities. Therefore, the food and beverage industry iceberg is actually mostly below the water line. It is estimated that 80% of all food companies have less than 100 employees. In my experience, I believe that number is closer to less than 50 employees.

Chicagoland is filled with high-growth companies that are rapidly changing the industry. They have a unique product, it tastes great, and the packaging is amazing. They believe we should all buy their products! When working with these companies, I ask them: What is your pH? What is your water activity? What temperature do you heat your product to and for how long? Do you use preservatives? What is your shelf life? How are you keeping your records? Do you know if your suppliers have safe food? DO YOU have a food safety plan? I have seen plenty of these talented people start to cry.

There should be no fear of food safety, and once you sit down with companies and talk about a step-by-step “basics-done-well” plan, they realize that they can do this. We have strong innovative large, medium and small companies in the region. And the way they come together, through organizations like Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network, gives Chicagoland the competitive edge at being the food and beverage hub for the United States. But none of this can happen without food safety.

For companies, it is simply a matter of telling your story and how you safely make your products. Sometimes companies have to make some changes and they must prepare proper paperwork. These steps are necessary to inform the regulators and the retail outlets who want to know that there are food safety plans in place and the products are safe.

Many companies are moving toward innovative technologies to make food safer. We have companies using high pressure processing to help with shelf life and inactivation of pathogenic bacteria. Some are using chemistry. Some are using unique packaging. The great thing about the Chicagoland community is that we have access to experts in all of these fields that will help companies continue to grow safely. This includes incubators, marketing firms, scientists and international organizations like the IIT’s Institute for Food Safety and Health.

Chicagoland food and beverage companies are world leaders and will continue to be so as long as they start with food safety.

Matrix Sciences

Matrix Sciences Acquires Neumann Risk Services

Matrix Sciences

Matrix Sciences recently announced the acquisition of Neumann Risk Services, LLC (NRS), led by Melanie Neumann, J.D., M.S., according to a press release. Neumann’s venture, NRS, combines a consulting business with a legal practice, focusing in the areas of food safety, food science, food defense, recall & crisis management.

Adding NRS to the Matrix Sciences portfolio allows them to further grow their consulting capabilities, working with Neumann to expand their set of services. She will be building a suite of services targeted at helping companies reap the benefits of their investments in food safety risk management, according to the press release.

In addition to taking the role of Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Matrix, Melanie Neumann will also maintain Neumann Legal Services, a separate but allied legal practice. “I made the decision to join Matrix Sciences because our vision for meeting the changing and unmet needs of the food industry align very well,” says Neumann. “But more than that, our value in how we need to meet those needs make for a great fit.”

Neumann received her law degree from Mitchell Hamline Law School and a Master of Science in Food Science from Michigan State University. Neumann has worked as an attorney in a number of capacities at major food companies throughout the world, building herself a reputation as a prominent consultant, thought leader and adviser in the world of food safety.

Robert Wiebe, chief executive officer of Matrix Sciences, says this acquisition is an important step in their growth strategy. “Melanie and NRS are critical to building a true full-service solution provider,” says Wiebe. “Building on the capabilities and capacity from our acquisitions of Richter International and Northland Laboratories, our portfolio of companies represents a growing and unique partner for our customers in addressing the challenges and opportunities in bringing safe food to market.”

NSF International Acquires Burwater Pacific Group, Expands Reach in New Zealand and Australia

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Yesterday NSF International announced the acquisition of Burwater Pacific Group, a New Zealand-based food safety training, auditing and consulting business. The deal further expands NSF’s food safety and quality services to the food manufacturing and retail markets in New Zealand and Australia. Led by Nigel Burrows, the Burwater Pacific Group will be renamed NSF Burwater and become part of the NSF International Food Safety and Quality Division. NSF Burwater will offer the following services:

  • Technical consulting, including services for new product launches (product development, label review, food control plans, HACCP development, and micro and chemical sampling)
  • Auditing services, including franchise compliance and operational standards review, and third-party regulatory audits
  • Training and development

Food Safety and Sleepless Nights

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Trust in suppliers. From a global perspective, it’s about experiences. Do you trust your suppliers? Do we silo ourselves such that we forget we’re the ones who add value ? Never underestimate the importance of adding value. As business owners, it’s important to completely integrate yourself into the business. Break down the silos and integrate yourself into the business. You can’t expect everyone else to learn your language; you need to learn industry’s language. What else keeps food safety experts up at night?