Speakers

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Rick Biros
President, Food Safety Tech
Rick Biros has more than 25 years of B2B publishing experience. Early in his career he worked on Food Processing and then Food Engineering magazines in a sales and then management role. He was the founder and a principal in Carpe Diem Communications where he developed and launched Food Quality magazine, The Food Quality Award and The Food Quality Conference & Expo as well as Pharmaceutical Formulation & Quality and Contamination Control magazines. Under his direction, Food Quality and Pharmaceutical Formulation & Quality received editorial excellence awards from The American Society of Business Publication Editors. In 2007, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. acquired Carpe Diem. Biros continues his entrepreneurial interests with the formation of Innovative Publishing Co. and the launch of MedTech Intelligence in 2009; Food Safety Tech in 2012 and the Cannabis Industry Journal in 2016. Innovative Publishing is also a conference producer of six med tech conferences, three food safety conferences and two cannabis industry conferences.
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Jill Bender
VP Marketing Communications, SafetyChain Software
With over 20 years' experience in the software industry, Jill Bender is dedicated to sharing software innovations, and the impact technologies can have on a company's operational performance and bottom line. As VP of Marketing for SafetyChain Software, Bender works with the food industry and SafetyChain customers alike to educate and share how technologies, designed for food safety and quality operations, can help more effectively achieve their goals of delivering safe, quality food.
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Karen Everstine, PhD
Scientific Liaison, Foods Program, US Pharmacopeial Convention
Karen is a Scientific Liaison with the Foods Program at United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP). She joined USP in 2015 to advance the development of food fraud mitigation tools and resources, including serving as the technical lead for the re-design and expansion of USP’s Food Fraud Database. Karen is the lead Scientific Liaison for two USP Expert Panels focused on food fraud, one of which developed a framework for identifying and classifying adulterants that pose a potential health hazard to consumers. In her previous work, Karen led federally-funded food fraud research projects at a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence based at the University of Minnesota. She began her food safety career as an epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), where she conducted foodborne outbreak investigations and contributed to study design and statistical analysis for CDC-funded studies. She holds an MPH and PhD in public health from the University of Minnesota.
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Willem (Bill) Folkerts
VP, Strategic Marketing and Program Operations - Food Science, USP
Bill Folkerts, USP’s VP, Strategic Marketing and Program Operations – Foods Program, has more than 35 years of experience in the areas of microbiology, quality management, strategic marketing, and business development in the healthcare and consumer product industries. Mr. Folkerts has worked for several leading institutions and organizations, including Johns Hopkins University, Proctor and Gamble, Becton Dickinson, ATCC and others. Bill’s experience in foods includes establishing partnerships for work in developing methods to quickly detect microbial contamination in complex foods as well as marketing proficiency testing services and other products to foods testing labs. Bill co-leads the foods program at USP and is responsible for business strategy and program operations. Bill earned his MBA from the University of Baltimore and BS in Biology/Chemistry from Towson University.
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Steven M. Gendel, PhD
Vice President, Division Food Allergens, IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group
Dr. Gendel works to ensure safe food for everyone as the Vice President, Division of Food Allergens, IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group. He is a FSPCA Preventive Controls Lead Trainer, a Certified Food Scientist, and an experienced speaker. Previously he was the Food Allergen Coordinator for the US Food and Drug Administration where he lead policy initiatives, the development of regulatory documents, and assisted in enforcement activities. He has over 25 years of experience in food safety science and policy and over 90 techincal publications.
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Jorge Hernandez
Chief Food Safety Officer, Wholesome International
Jorge Hernandez is the chief food safety officer at Wholesome International where he is responsible for the design and implementation of the food safety, quality assurance, regulatory compliance and sustainability programs. Wholesome International is a restaurant company with different concepts and brands in the quick service and fast casual foodservice markets. Hernandez was previously the senior vice president of food safety and quality assurance at US FOODS, vice president of food safety and risk management at the National Restaurant Association and regional supervisor at the Illinois Department of Public Health. Hernandez received a B.S. degree in biology from Rockford University, a degree in microbiology from the Centro de Estudios Medico-Biologicos in Mexico City, Mexico and a degree in languages and literature from Universite de la Sorbonne, Paris, France. He belongs to several national and international organizations and boards, including the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), STOP Foodborne Illness, Food Safety Tech and the Food Safety Consortium, the International Food Protection Institute (IFPTI), Food Safety Summit, QA Magazine and the ANSI Accreditation Committee.
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Brett Koonse
Consumer Safety Officer, FDA
Brett has been working for almost forty years in seafood and seafood safety. For the last 10 years he has been an FDA’s aquaculture food safety expert where he led the development of Good Aquaculture Practices and has worked in over 40 countries conducting a variety of aquaculture food safety activities including research, training, inspections, and assessments
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John Kukoly
Director, Americas, BRC
John Kukoly is a senior member of the BRC Global Standards team, responsible for managing the BRC programs across North and South America. The BRC Global Standard for Food Safety and the BRC Global Standard for Packaging were the first global food safety standards to be benchmarked to the GFSI requirements, and Kukoly works closely with specifiers and users of the BRC suite of standards.
With more 20 years of technical management experience in the food industry, including a significant focus on BRC Standards within a global certification body, as well as quality and production positions with Kraft, ConAgra and Ecolab, Kukoly brings a wealth of experience and expertise to his role. He is an active member of both the GFSI and the Canadian Supply Chain Coalition Working Groups, developing food safety and auditor qualification programs for the industry.
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Terry Levee
Sr. Director of Food Safety, Giant Eagle
Terry Levee is the Sr. Director of Food Safety, (Quality Assurance) and Regulatory Compliance at Giant Eagle where he is responsible for the design and implementation of the food safety, quality assurance, and regulatory compliance programs. Giant Eagle, Inc., ranked among the top 40 on Forbes magazine’s largest private corporations list, is one of the nation’s largest food retailers and distributors with approximately $9.3 billion in annual sales. Founded in 1931, Giant Eagle, Inc. has grown to be the number one supermarket retailer in the region with more than 410 stores throughout western Pennsylvania, north central Ohio, northern West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana. Throughout his 30 year career, he has been responsible for the development and maintenance of quality assurance and food safety policies and programs for all of his companies’ retail and foodservice operations, distribution facilities (including home delivery), supply chain and manufacturing plants. Levee was previously, Director, Quality Assurance & Food Safety at Natural Markets Food Group, ERS Manager, Consumer and Industrial Products at Deloitte & Touche, Director, Food Safety Programs at FMI and Director, Quality Assurance & Food Safety at Giant Foods (Ahold USA). Levee received a B.S. (P) degree in Environmental Health from East Carolina University. He currently maintains a REHS/RS as well as belonging to several Local and National boards, including the Conference for Food Protection, Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association and the Ohio Retail Food Safety Advisory Council.
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Sharon Lindan Mayl
Senior Advisor for Policy to the Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, FDA
Sharon Lindan Mayl currently serves as the senior advisor for policy to the deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at FDA. In this position, she oversees and manages significant policy initiatives for the Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine. She currently focuses on implementation of FSMA. Mayl co-leads the team that is developing the FSMA import rules and guidance documents, including those related to the Foreign Supplier Verification Program, Voluntary Qualified Import Program and Accredited Third-Party Certification Program. She is also the co-lead for the FSMA import operational team that will prepare the FDA for its transition from policy setting to compliance in the next phase of FSMA implementation. Mayl is a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Law School. Prior to joining the agency in 1994, she worked first in private practice and then for a public interest advocacy group on food issues.
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Melanie Neumann
President and Global Food Safety Attorney, Neumann Risk Services, LLC, (NRS)
Melanie Neumann, J.D., M.S. is the president and global food safety attorney of Neumann Risk Services, LLC (NRS). NRS provides regulatory, business and brand counsel to help the food and beverage industry manage these various risks. NRS is a holistic food safety risk management firm where food law, food safety, food science and brand reputation converge. With more than 18 years of experience advising food and beverage companies, Neumann leverages her years as an attorney along with her master’s degree in food safety to help clients understand the risks relating to food laws and regulatory compliance from compliance, operational and brand perspectives. This involves working with companies to interact with regulators in response to investigation findings, enforcement actions and recalls, FSMA compliance and other FDA and USDA regulations. Neumann also works with companies to identify risk-based strategies to manage supply chain risks through an enterprise risk management approach and helps clients tackle emerging food safety risks and regulatory changes in both the United States and international markets.
Neumann is active in the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), is a technical working group member of the GFSI Global Markets Program Strategy, as well as a member of the Scientific Organization Committee of The Sackler Institute of Nutrition Science of the New York Academy of Sciences. She is an avid runner, marathoner, triathlete and four-time Ironman finisher.
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Debby Newslow
President, DL Newslow & Associates
Debby Newslow is the author of Food Safety Management Programs ¾ Applications, Best Practices and Compliance, published by CRC Press/Taylor and Francis Group in 2013; The ISO 9000 Quality System: Applications in Food and Technology released by John Wiley & Sons Publishing in February 2001 and many published articles on food safety, management systems and related topics throughout her food science based career. Newslow has received several industry-specific awards with the most recent being the 2013 Food Safety Leadership Award for Training presented by NSF International at the Food Safety Summit. The entire D. L. Newslow & Associate Team not only focuses on presenting the best possible educational courses at company sites or their Orlando public training center (NRFSP corporate offices) but also on the development, implementation, and maintenance of effective and compliant (FSMS, GFSI-approved FS schemes, ISO, FSMA, etc.) food safety and quality management systems.
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Mike Robach
Vice President, Corporate Food Safety, Quality & Regulatory, Cargill; Chair of the GFSI Board, Cargill & GFSI
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Chris Sinclair
Compliance Manager, SQFI
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Gary Smith
Director of Food Safety Systems, Eurofins
Gary Smith brings more than 20 years of industry experience to his duties at Eurofins. A
leader in food safety, Smith has an extensive list of professional certifications as well as industry
memberships, and has been active on a number of policy-influencing committees, including the GFSI
Technical Working Group and SQF Technical Advisory Committee. In addition, Smith has been
awarded numerous industry recognitions, including the SQF Distinguished Service award in 2014.
Previous relevant positions Smith has held include director of training and improvement
solutions at SAI Global, vice president of supply chain at Steritech, and technical director at the SQF
Institute. Smith has a Master of Science degree in environmental biology from Governor’s State University and B.S. in animal sciences from the University of Illinois.
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Jacqueline Southee, Ph.D.
US Liaison, FSSC 22000
Jacqueline Southee is U.S. liaison for FSSC 22000, working to build the profile of the ISO-22000 based certification scheme in the United States and understanding of the important role FSSC 22000 can have in the global harmonization of food safety. A graduate of the faculty of agriculture and food sßcience of the University of Nottingham, Southee is based in Washington, D.C.
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John Spink, Ph.D.
Director & Assistant Professor, Michigan State University
John Spink, Ph.D. is the director of the Food Fraud Initiative at Michigan State University (USA). His MSU packaging Ph.D. work was on anti-counterfeit strategy, and his broad research expands from food fraud to product fraud-related business risks (including enterprise risk management ERM and COSO), and a range of outreach activities that cover policy and trade issues. While conducting his research and outreach, he has a full teaching load with the graduate courses: “Packaging for Food Safety”, “Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection (Food Fraud)”, and” Quantifying Food Risk”. He is widely published in leading academic journals with important works such as “Defining the Public Health Threat of Food Fraud.” His leadership positions include product fraud related activities with ISO, GFSI Food Fraud Think Tank and U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP). Global activities include engagements with the European Commission, INTERPOL and Operation Opson, New Zealand MPI, and serves as Advisor on Food Fraud to the Chinese National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment (CFSA). Outreach includes MSU’s biannual “Food Fraud MOOC” (Massive Open Online Course) that offers free training and certificates online.
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Russell K. Statman
Executive Director, Registrar Corp
Russell K. Statman, Esq., has practiced commercial law on behalf of FDA-regulated businesses for more than twenty-five years. He has argued cases requiring interpretation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act before the United States Court of Appeals. Mr. Statman has an A.B. degree from Princeton University and a Juris Doctorate from the Fordham University School of Law, where he was a member of the Law Review. He co-founded Registrar Corp, a U.S. FDA consulting firm, in 2003.
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John Szpylka, PhD
Director, Scientific Affairs, Merieux NutriSciences
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Jennifer Thomas
Director Division of Enforcement Office of Compliance, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA
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Trish Wester
Chair, The Association of Food Safety Auditing Professionals – AFSAP
Ms. Wester’s career has spanned industry, food safety testing and auditing. She pioneered programs for Listeria monocytogenes control using Rep PCR technology and has worked extensively in the development of global accredited Third Party auditing programs. She is currently President of PA Wester Consulting, as well as Chair, The Association of Food Safety Auditing Professionals – AFSAP and an active SME in food safety.
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