DALLAS — While public concern about food safety and nutrition is high, information about these issues is often inconsistent and fragmented.
What does the public really know about food safety? How reliable is the information on which dietary decisions are based? These are two of the questions to be addressed by leaders in agriculture, government, health care, agribusiness and academia during Summit II: Food Safety, Health and Nutrition Dec. 7-8 at Le Meridien Hotel in Dallas.
“Americans consistently rank food safety and nutrition as one of their highest concerns but often lack the scientifically based information to make proper decisions,” said Dr. Edward A. Hiler, vice chancellor for agriculture and life sciences of The Texas A&M University System. “Unfortunately, this breach is sometimes filled with contradictory and confusing information.
“The goal of Summit II is to highlight food safety information based on valid scientific data so that public misperceptions will be reduced. Our hope is to help bridge the information gap between the food industry and consumers,” Hiler said.
An estimated 400 Summit II participants will begin with a general discussion led by experts in five key food safety and nutrition issues: *Revising the Food Safety System–From the Farm to the Table — Dr. David Theno, vice president of quality assurance, Food Maker Inc., and Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety, Center for Science in the Public Interest
*Factors Influencing Food Safety: Bacteria vs. Chemicals vs. Physical Hazards — Dr. Elsa Murano, associate professor and assistant director of the Center for Food Safety, Texas A&M University.
*Emerging Technologies in Food Production and Processing — Dr. John Sorenson, general manager of Asgrow Seed Co.
*Nutrition Perceptions of the Public–Good Food vs. Bad Food — Dr. Doris Derelian, R.D., president, American Dietetic Association
*Nutrition–Myth vs. Fact — Dr. Eric Hentges, director of consumer nutrition and health research, Pork Producers Council.
The conference then will divide into five sessions to both identify alternatives and solutions to these concerns and to define the appropriate roles of government, the private sector, consumers and academia in addressing these issues. The results of these breakout sessions will be distributed nationwide.
“A number of political, economic and technological factors have come together in recent years to make this a crucial time for both food producers and consumers on the issue of food safety and nutrition. This is a window of opportunity we cannot afford to let slip by,” said Dr. Wallace Migura of Uncle Ben’s Inc. in Houston and vice chair of the program committee for Summit II.
Dr. H. Russell Cross, director of the Institute of Food Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University and program chairman for Summit II agreed.
“The decisions that we make now will have a tremendous impact on how we can be assured of a safe and healthful food supply into the next century,” Cross said.
The closing speaker will be Dr. David Smith, Texas Department of Health Commissioner, who will address the implications to public health of nutrition, food production and meal preparation.
Summit II is the first statewide conference since the successful launching of the Texas Agricultural and Natural Resources Summit Initiative three years ago. The purpose of the Summit Initiative is to identify and resolve the critical issues facing Texas agriculture by bringing together representatives from every sector and interest to resolve these issues and concerns.
Registration for conference participants is $95. In addition to the Summit II program, Le Meridien Hotel’s Executive Chef Mario Reyes will offer classes on preparing healthy cuisines. The classes are scheduled from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 6-7. A fee of $30 will include the cost of dinner and class materials.
For more information call 409-847-9066.