Food and dairy conference approaches

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COLUMBUS – The events of last Sept. 11 are affecting the food and dairy industry’s security procedures, said Valence Alvarez, associate professor of food science and technology.

That’s why food safety and food security will be a strong theme at this year’s Food and Dairy Industries Conference, Feb. 20-21 at the Wyndham Dublin Hotel in Dublin, Ohio.

“Just a year ago, interest in food safety revolved around bacteria and safe processing techniques,” said Alvarez, who is planning the conference. “That’s still important, but today, we’re facing new issues – bioterrorism, anthrax.

“We’re devoting an afternoon to address these issues and give members of the food and dairy industry the information they need to respond to them.”

This year’s conference theme is “A View of the New Landscape of the Food and Dairy Industry,” and food security is just a part of the backdrop affecting food and dairy companies, Alvarez said.

Other aspects involve the broad trend of mergers and consolidations appearing throughout the food and dairy industry.

“That has an influence on the way companies operate,” Alvarez said. “Companies must adjust distribution and sales, and develop new mechanisms for doing business.”

In particular, dairy production and distribution is undergoing change in Ohio, he said, and much of a morning session on dairy will cover that transformation.

Other sessions will focus on consumer interest in “foods of the future,” Alvarez said.

Functional foods. Interest is increasing in functional foods – those that help prevent disease or offer other specific health benefits.

In this session, attendees will learn about the mechanisms and opportunities that companies have to promote commercialization of functional foods in the state of Ohio.

“Companies often have to find out about and adopt new technologies to put new foods on the market to fill these niches,” Alvarez said. “They can learn about them at this conference.”

Alvarez said the program is geared to middle- and upper-management personnel of food companies around the state, but anyone interested is welcome to attend.

Registration. The registration fee for the two-day event is $140, which includes a Wednesday evening banquet.

For more information or to register contact Julie Townsend at 614-292-8897.

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