Agriculture News

December 19, 2019

Conference to address connection between big data and food safety

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University is hosting the Big Data, Safe Food Conference on May 11-12, 2020. The first of its kind, the two-day conference will explore the intersection of big data and food safety through conversations with experts from industry, government and academia.

Ariana Torres, assistant professor in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture and the Department of Agricultural Economics and one of the conference organizers, expressed her excitement about the groundbreaking conference. “The main question the conference will focus on is how can academia, industry and government entities collaborate to address and prevent foodborne diseases using data collected from farm to fork. Food has a long and complex supply chain and we need to discuss how big data can influence food safety along with who manages and shares these data points,” she said.

On the first day, speakers will address questions about big data and how big data can influence food safety. Andrew Kennedy of the Office of Food Policy and Response at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will deliver a keynote speech. Sessions will focus on foodborne pathogen contamination, data science applications specific to the food industry, traceability of food products and translation of big data to consumer impacts. The day will conclude with a student poster session.

Dennis Buckmaster, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Dean’s Fellow for Digital Agriculture, looks forward to seeing some convergence of expertise and technologies. “Improved data flow, coupled with data analytics and artificial intelligence, has tremendous potential to improve food safety. We hope this conference helps attendees identify technologies and approaches in sensing and control that could nicely complement blockchain and traceability for both marketing and safety.”

The second day will feature opportunities for networking and grant proposal discussions. The goal is to draft a plan of action by the end of the conference that will combine scholarship, research and possible industry opportunities in the areas of food safety and big data. More information regarding the conference can be found at https://ag.purdue.edu/big-data-food-safety-2020/.

Conference speakers include:

  • William Hallman, Department of Human Ecology, Rutgers University.
  • Trevor Suslow, Produce Marketing Association, University of California, Davis.
  • Greg Siragusa, senior principal scientist, Eurofins Microbiology Laboratories.
  • Tejas Bhatt, Senior Director of Food Safety Innovation, Walmart.
  • Mitzi Baum, CEO, Stop Foodborne Illness.
  • Other experts from several universities and firms will cover engineering, food science, animal science, public health, and economics.

“Big data concept has been used in improving food quality and developing new food products. We want to explore more ways to utilize data science tools to protect consumers from foodborne illness, for example, using crowdsourcing data to build rapid-response monitoring programs for sporadic outbreaks,” said Yaohua Feng, assistant professor of consumer food safety in Purdue's Department of Food Science.

Sponsorship opportunities are available at https://ag.purdue.edu/big-data-food-safety-2020/sponsors/. Registration for the conference opens in February. Abstract submissions are currently being accepted at the conference website.

Writer: Abby Leeds, 765-494-7817, mayer36@purdue.edu 

Sources: Ariana Torres, 765-494-8781, torres2@purdue.edu

Dennis Buckmaster, dbuckmas@purdue.edu

Yaohua Feng, 765-494-0331, yhfeng@purdue.edu

Agricultural Communications: 765-494-8415;

Maureen Manier, Department Head, mmanier@purdue.edu  

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