2004 Louisiana Food Processors Conference
This goal of this second annual conference was to bring together the food processing industry in Louisiana and provide useful information and contacts on technology, regulatory, and business issues. The one and half-day conference, held March 3 – 4, received strong support from the 200+ registrants from state, regional, and national food industry and government entities. All 25 company booths/tables were reserved, and provided direct contact and information to the conference attendees. On the morning of the 4th, the conference agenda was divided into separate breakout sessions to focus on specific commodity or industry issues.
The conference was also preceded by a legislative commerce committee meeting. Individual food processors presented their testimony of concerns and issues critical to the growth and viability of the food industry in the state to attending senate and representative committee members. The commerce committee members gained insight and awareness to the need of food processing industry support from our state government. This event provided a strong and missing link between our industry, which is so important to the vitality of business and development in our state, and the state legislators who are responsible for support of business and industry development.
The general conference included speakers and presentations concerning economics of food processing in the state, alternative retailing opportunities through the QVC network, the biosecurity and food safety act of 2002, food security practices at processing and distribution, process control for the food processing industry, and a presentation of the LSU Ag Center Food Processing and Technology Pilot Plant. In addition to the seafood session, breakout sessions included demand for quality assurance and food labels, an overview of sensory analysis application to the food industry, FSIS requirements on Listeria and E. coli for the red meat and poultry processing industry, bioterrorism act issues, and rapid microbiological methods in support of HACCP.
The conference was sponsored by a number of entities which contributed time, effort and money, but the seafood industry section coordinator would like to especially thank Ms. Terri Gilmer of the LSU Ag Center Dept. of Food Science for her tireless support and assistance with this session and the conference in whole.
Seafood Processing Session
The seafood session was attended by 40 – 50 people, and consisted of 6 speakers divided into three areas: phosphate and marination technologies, processing waste solutions, and Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board activities update. The individuals that made presentations to the session are noted below, along with links to their presentations (where available). The session was introduced, moderated and coordinated by Dr. Jon Bell, LSU Ag Center Department of Food Science Seafood Technology Extension professor.
Phosphate and Marination Technologies in the Seafood Industry
Processing Waste Issues and Treatment Opportunities
Dr. John J. Sansalone
Seafood Industry Marketing and Promotion Activities
Advisory to the Seafood Technology Program
Dr. Bell encouraged the audience members who visited the seafood session to utilize the advisory survey sheets to provide feedback to the seafood technology extension program at the LSU Ag Center and indicate important issues and concerns to the seafood industry in Louisiana. Two main issues for program support to the industry were identified. The issue most mentioned was the application of value added processing to seafood products. This opportunity for this support lies in the utilization of the modern equipment and technology currently housed at the Ag Center’s Food Processing & Technology Pilot Plant (FPTPP), and for the potential of new equipment to be obtained in the future. Seafood processing companies and individuals need to be aware of this resource at LSU, and then they must make the opportunity to schedule and try new processing trials with the FPTPP technologists to add value to existing and new products.
Another issue identified is the development of quality and safety improvement programs and processes for seafood products. The beginnings of a quality certification and improvement program for the shrimp industry has been initiated by the seafood technology program at the LSU Ag Center Department of Food Science, by partnering with the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board via federal disaster funds pledged from the shrimp harvesting industry in Louisiana. Quality programs need to be tailored for individual industry components based on specific requirements, and must be initiated and desired by the industry itself for possible success. Quality improvement mechanisms and process changes must be supported by industry harvesters and processors.