More than 1,500 attendees representing all segments of the $53 billion frozen food and beverage supply chain in the United States convened in Las Vegas March 3-6 to take part in the American Frozen Food Institute’s annual convention (AFFI-CON). During the gathering, which was the largest on record, Shawn Campbell of NORPAC was elected as chairman of the organization’s board of directors. Mike McEvoy of Sargento was tapped as vice chairman, and Stan Firestone of Firestone Pacific Foods was named immediate past chairman.
Campbell is the president and chief executive officer of a farmer-owned cooperative made up of family farms that represent over 200 growers in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Most of NORPAC’s farms are located within 50 miles of their facilities, allowing crops to go from field to freezer in less than four hours.
Nine board members were also elected at AFFI-CON: Maria Ellis of McCain Foods, USA, Inc.; Wesley Eubanks of The Pictsweet Company; Jim Gratzek of SunOpta; Dylan Marks of Arbre Group Holdings; Mike McEvoy of Sargento; P.J. Mecozzi of Del Mar Food Products; Chris Rhynalds of Lamb Weston; Glen Tellock of Lakeside Foods; and Jeff Varcoe of Schwan’s Company.
“On behalf of the American Frozen Food Institute, I’m honored to welcome these frozen food and beverage leaders,” said AFFI President and CEO Alison Bodor. “Each individual brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, which will contribute to AFFI’s number one goal of advancing food safety.”
On the third day of the convention AFFI launched “How to Validate a Blancher,” a unique tool designed exclusively for the frozen food industry. It represents an important resource for manufacturers as they implement process preventive control requirements as part of the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act.
Frozen food manufacturers can incorporate the new resource into a facility’s food safety plan as they evaluate the application of their processing equipment for pathogen control and apply appropriate monitoring technologies, ultimately achieving higher Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) control and prevention.
“A key component of AFFI’s goal to advance food safety includes providing AFFI members and the entire frozen food industry with educational resources that represent the industry’s best thinking,” said Bodor. “Especially in the area of developing and implementing most effective food safety practices, the entire industry must work together.”
The food safety resource includes input from over 70 food safety professionals from 42 AFFI member companies that comprise the trade association’s Food Safety Working Group. It is working to combat the risk of Lm by developing best food safety practices that will provide the entire frozen food category with effective safety protocols.
AFFI will release additional best food safety practices for sanitation, sanitary design of equipment and facilities, process validation and environmental monitoring throughout this year.
The free resource may be accessed at www.affi.org.