The 1,300 food manufacturers in New Jersey need to be fluent in food safety, but they’re not the only ones: the state is home to companies that design mixers and ovens, companies that make packaging, and other food-adjacent businesses that supply the state’s makers and restaurateurs.
“Remember, if your packaging is tainted with something, your Twinkies will be tainted with something,” said John Kennedy, president of the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program.
The NJMEP and NJBIZ are co-hosting Food Day on Nov. 4 at the The Event Center at iPA in Freehold.
Food Day is geared toward educating participants in New Jersey’s food supply chain, from manufacturers and distributers to food service end users. Four training sessions will provide attendees with information on food safety compliance, business growth services, workforce development, and cybersecurity.
Food businesses often start out of passion, Kennedy said, meaning many owners forget an integral detail.
“They forget that it’s a business,” he said. “The people I grew up with who started food businesses started with something they made or their grandmothers made. That’s good, it helps make some pretty wild products, but startups for food don’t tend to last because it’s very difficult. Once you get past the point where you’re making a great tomato sauce, you’ve got to make it safety, you’ve got to make more of it, you’ve got to ship it.”
There’s no such thing as the Keebler elves, he said: food manufacturers have to do the work themselves.
NJMEP Food Industry Safety Compliance and Regulatory Solutions Specialist Juliana Canale will run the training on food safety, providing a rundown of seven rules in the Food Safety Modernization Act, and two members of the Food and Drug Administration will be present giving updates on the law.
Lilian Hsu, policy analyst at the FDA Center for Applied Nutrition in the office of compliance, and Matthew Noonan, compliance officer with the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs Human and Animal Food Division, will be present to answer questions on when manufacturers should expect their facilities to be inspected, and what small businesses can do to prepare.
“People will be able to meet with the FDA in person. Clients look at that as being a great opportunity. They just want to hear it from the horse’s mouth,” said Bob Salamone, director of food solutions for NJMEP “The FDA is an enforcement group, but the more we can humanize that group, the better off we are.”
Another session will address cybersecurity and why it’s important for food manufacturers to pay heed; a final session, focused on workforce development, will educate attendants about apprenticeship programs that can benefit workers and employers.
“They help you not only be a better production person, but a safe person. Apprentices walk away with a significant training and credential, and the company benefits because they have someone who isn’t just going to stay entry level. The return on investment is very good,” Kennedy said.
For businesses needing a boost on branding and advertising in a competitive market, Norris McLaughlin PA will host a presentation on Branding and Advertising for Disruptive Food Trends.
A marketplace of a variety of vendors, including organizations Hy-Tek Material Handling, Garden State Wine Growers and Push Beverages will also be set up all day.
See the entire Food Day schedule and reserve your space on our Events Page.