Conference History

NOTE: The following comments serve as a historical preface to the CFP Constitution and Bylaws.

The Conference for Food Protection dates back to the 1971 Conference on Food Protection held in Denver, Colorado. It was sponsored jointly by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Public Health Association (APHA). The purpose of the Conference was to provide an inter-professional dialogue on the microbiological aspects of food safety for individuals representing industry, government and consumers.

The Second National Conference for Food Protection was held in Washington, D.C. in 1984. The 1984 Conference expanded its scope to cover toxicological, as well as microbiological concerns.The purpose of the 1984 Conference was to share perspectives on the toxicological and microbiological aspects of food safety problems in the United States; to identify the needs, direction and opportunities of food production, processing, handling and regulation through the year 1990; and to establish an organization for the continuing study of food safety problems and for promotion of the recommendations of the Conference.

The 1984 Conference was organized into seven committees: Toxicology; Microbiology; Good Manufacturing and Quality Control; Standards and Regulations; Education and Training; New Foods Processing and Packaging; and Conference Program Committees, with selected individuals also serving as resource persons who prepared white papers on various issues that were to be discussed at the Conference. In addition to the federal, State and local health officials who had been invited to the 1971 Conference, the 1984 Conference included industry, academic and consumer representatives. The 1984 Conference adopted a recommendation that a continuing conference organization be established and that a constitution and bylaws be developed based upon a draft presented at the Conference. It was agreed that the objectives of the Conference would be:

  • To identify emerging problems of food safety;
  • To address the problems of food safety on a regular basis;
  • To formulate recommendations for the solution of the identified problems;
  • To follow up on the recommendations of the Conference so that they will be incorporated into public policy and in industry practice;
  • To evaluate the effectiveness of the Conference recommendations; and
  • To establish a working liaison with professional and trade associations, academic institutions and government agencies concerned with food safety.

Following the 1984 Conference, the Constitution and Bylaws were finalized and the Conference was incorporated in 1985. The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) agreed to support the Conference financially and a Conference Executive Director was hired.

The 1986 Conference for Food Protection was held in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The 1986 Conference was again organized into seven committees representing the major science and technical aspects of food protection. A 25-member Executive Committee selected the topics to be discussed and requested .white papers from technical experts. In addition to the committees, five Councils were formed representing the interests of the participants at the Conference.

Although the purposes of these Conferences were well established and accepted, the organization and procedures of the Conference were long debated. In the early meetings of the Steering Committee preparing for the 1984 Conference, the idea of emulating the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS) was introduced. Individuals working during this Conference to write a new constitution began introducing NCIMS-type structure into the Conference organization. This was the first step leading to the current Constitution and Bylaws.The second step was action taken at the 1984 Conference to reaffirm the intent to model the Conference after the NCIMS. The following is quoted from the Proceedings of the 1984 Conference:

An Organizational Model: from the beginning it was the intention of the organizers of the Second National Conference that it should include 'an effort to establish an organization for the continuing study of food safety problems and for the promotion of the recommendations of the Conference'. What the organizers had in mind in making that a goal of the Conference was to establish, in the area of food safety, something akin to the Interstate Milk Shipments Conference and the more recent Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference, so that a national dialogue on food safety might continue on a regular, periodic basis.

A National Conference for Food Protection should be established as an ongoing conference and be structured similarly to the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments. One of the Conference's primary purposes should be to promote the formulation and use of uniform model laws and regulations among all government agencies to assure uniform interpretations and implementation and to eliminate duplication of services. Its membership should consist of federal, State and local food regulatory officials, academia and representatives from industry. It should be governed by an Executive Board with representatives from federal, State and local agencies and industry.

The draft Constitution and Bylaws adopted by the 1984 Conference were, according to its authors, not meant to be a fully workable source for forming and operating the conference model after the NCIMS. It was intended as an interim document that would be upgraded to provide a more authoritative foundation for Conference actions.

The final step in the decision to upgrade the Conference organization was taken at the 1986 Conference. The Program Committee reported that, "it was the unanimous view of the committee that the Conference should operate as an action organization, existing not merely to identify problems and formulate recommendations, but to resolve issues through the implementation of recommendations, much as the Weights and Measures Conference and the Interstate Milk Shippers do. Specific recommendations in this regard will be presented prior to the next conference."

To accomplish this, the 1986 Conference agreed:

  • To develop a State regulatory ratification mechanism whereby each of the 50 States will have one vote; and
  • To create a Constitution and Bylaws Committee to review the entire Constitution and Bylaws and to formulate recommendations for the Executive Committee to consider.

The Constitution and Bylaws Committee approached the review process with three principal needs in mind. First, the Constitution needed to allow for the continuing study of food safety problems, but with a more limited focus. To achieve this, the following changes were made:

1. The objective of the Conference placed greater emphasis on food safety at the point of ultimate sale to consumers through food services, retail food stores and food vending, and continued to identify and address problems in production, processing, packaging, distribution, sale and service of food;

2. The seven committees were condensed into three councils to provide a balance between discussing the science and technology of food safety issues and developing various certification guidelines, procedures and models; however, as in the other two Conference examples, separate committees in each discipline area could still function to deliberate and review issues.

The second principle that guided the review process was the need for the Conference to be more successful in promoting food safety, mutual respect and uniformity. This was accomplished through the following changes:

1. The final actions taken by the Conference regarding such items as food safety controls, certification procedures and Memoranda of Understanding, were to be adopted by the regulatory delegates of the Conference with the advice of industry and other non-regulatory members;

2. The Constitution created a Council on Laws and Regulations; a Council on Administration, Certification and Education; and a Council on Science and Technology that provided vehicles by which the Conference could deliberate on all food safety issues and promote more uniform and effective food safety controls.

The final guiding principle was the need to ensure that the Conference would provide a national and, to the extent possible, international dialogue on food safety on a regular, periodic basis; and that this dialogue would be among representatives of regulatory, industry and other non-regulatory organizations. To accomplish this, the Constitution and Bylaws provided for the following:

1. The name of the Conference remained unchanged consistent with the recommendation made by the 1986 Program Committee. In order to increase international information exchange, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) were added. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) was already a member of the Conference;

2. The role that industry plays in the Conference is substantial. Industry is fully represented on all councils, committees and the Executive Board. Industry representatives alternate as Chair and Vice-Chair on all councils. Industry representatives are elected through industry caucuses. Industry's concerns and advice are fully considered since problems submitted to the Conference are assigned to one of the councils. Regulatory delegates vote on each council's recommended actions;

3. The Science and Technology Council provided a forum for discussion by all concerned parties of the scientific and technological aspects and principles underlying the problems faced by government and industry in their mutual goal of trying to provide safe foods for consumers and could include formation of individual committees for each scientific discipline. The Constitution and Bylaws attempt to intertwine these guiding principles so that in pursuing one, each would be pursued. This interdependence is critically important if the Conference recommendations are going to command the respect of the food regulators and the food industry that would be called upon to implement the recommendations. As was stated by Mr. Archie Holliday in his comments on the 1988 proposed Constitution and Bylaws:

"The most important need for an organization of this kind is to have its recommendations respected by the community called upon to implement them. Without the results of our deliberations commanding the highest respect attainable, getting together to identify and study food safety problems will be of little or no value to enough people to support a viable organization. The strength of the organization structure now being proposed by your Constitution and Bylaws Committee is that it provides the means to balance the interests of regulatory and industry people while providing an open forum for the consideration of ideas from any source. At the same time, matters that are supported by the voting delegates will have endured such a process as to command the utmost of respect. The Constitution and Bylaws are one step in an evolving process to develop a viable permanent Conference.

One should be careful not to conclude that a food service oriented structure would prohibit the free and open study of the wider range of food safety problems. When the values of NCIMS and ISSC organizational structures are discussed, we often fail to acknowledge the importance of procedures to successful operation of these bodies. Well-defined, established procedures will be essential to the effectiveness of the Conference operating under our proposal. Procedures should remain as a separate entity from the Constitution and Bylaws.

When the new Constitution and Bylaws are adopted, the Executive Board should immediately begin the process of establishing procedures to be approved by the Conference. It is in this process that attention can be given to how broad the scope of the Conference should be. The adoption and revision of Conference procedures should receive the same careful consideration as the adoption of Conference recommendations."

The Constitution and Bylaws Committee and the Executive Board believed that the Constitution and Bylaws proposed and accepted at the 1988 Conference provided a workable and proven approach that should be followed to develop an effective voice for present and future issues of food safety.