The University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety (CFS) held its Annual Meeting in early March. This invitation-only event provides CFS members and scientists from other organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, FDA, USDA and others to summarize the latest information on food safety research.
“I am very proud that this is the 28th year in a row that we have been organizing this event as the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia,” CFS Director Dr. Francisco Diez-Gonzalez said in his opening remarks.
Typically held in Atlanta, Georgia, this was the first time in the meeting’s 28 year history that it was held virtually. Though some of the traditional conference format was lost -- such as student poster presentations and networking opportunities -- the overwhelming response from participants was positive and attendance was on track with previous, in-person meetings.
Diez-Gonzalez noted in his introduction that the 2020 Annual Meeting was one of the last times many of the attendees gathered in public. It was held March 3-4 and COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic on March 11.
“Many of you were there and remember the unique mood that transpired because of the imminent pandemic,” he said. “For many of us, it was probably the last time that we sat in a room with over 150 people without wearing a mask.”
In a typical year, the CFS’ Annual Meeting is a day-and-a-half event, but this year’s conference took place the afternoons of March 2, 3 and 15 via Zoom. The event included six sessions and 30 speakers who covered topics such as the foodborne disease trends and outbreaks, the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the food industry, food traceability, food safety best practices, and recurring outbreaks.