Food Safety at the 2019 SIAL Canada Trade Show

The SIAL Canada trade show is North America's largest food innovation trade show — how did food safety standards at the 2019 event measure up?
Food Safety at the 2019 SIAL Canada Trade Show
May 7, 2019

The Canadian Institute of Food Safety (CIFS) was delighted to attend the 16th SIAL Canada trade show, North America's largest food innovation trade show, April 30 — May 2, at the Enercare Centre in Toronto, ON.

Featuring more than 1,000 exhibitors from the food retail, food service and food processing industries at home and abroad, the event brought together thousands of food industry innovators and influencers; over 18,500 visitors walked the floor to discover, test and taste the best that exhibitors had to offer.

Why Toronto?

Considered a significant international market, Toronto is both a gateway into the United States and a cradle of innovation in its own right. Major players in the industry are jostling to enter the Toronto market, including world-famous Italian 'grocerant', Eataly, making it an ideal location for this internationally renowned event.

FYI: Eataly is slated to arrive in Toronto's Manulife Centre in late 2019.

Features and highlights of the 2019 SIAL Canada trade show

Perhaps inspired by Eataly's much-anticipated opening, Italy was named '2019 Country of Honour' at the SIAL Canada event; Italy's immense contribution to modern gastronomy and la dolce vita / 'the sweet life' lifestyle were recognized and celebrated with activities and product showcases throughout the event.

2019 also saw SIAL Canada's first-ever international cheese competition, a showcase of the innovation, expertise and passion of local and international cheesemakers, and the first competition of its kind in Canada. A select panel of professional cheesemakers, retailers, chefs and members of la Guilde Internationale des Fromagers / the International Cheese Guild judged dozens of categories of arguably the best cheeses in the world in front of a live audience.

The SIAL Innovation Contest — an international contest that recognizes and rewards the most exciting innovations in food and food-related products (e.g. food packaging and containers) — and its winners were revealed at booth #625. Find out more about the SIAL Innovation Contest and the 2019 finalists.

Of course, there was no shortage of contemporary, classic and delicious food to sample. From bison burger sliders to decadent chocolate brownie cakes (and every cheese imaginable) attendees were certain to leave with more than a few new favourites.

SIAL Canada international cheese contest   SIAL Canada international cheese contest judge

Food safety at the 2019 SIAL Canada trade show

At CIFS, we recognize that events such as these pose very specific food safety challenges for exhibitors, including:

  • striking a balance between displaying food products (which helps to attract visitors to your booth) and keeping high-risk foods out of the Temperature Danger Zone*
  • washing hands thoroughly and as frequently as necessary to prevent cross-contamination with fewer hand washing facilities (or hand washing facilities that are farther away)
  • ensuring that food that has been in the Temperature Danger Zone for two hours or more is thrown away
  • managing, monitoring and rotating inventory to reduce food waste and ensure that you do not run out of product
  • monitoring the booth to ensure that attendees do not accidentally contaminate food
  • staffing the booth with employees who have been trained in both sales and proper food-handling techniques

*In Manitoba, the Temperature Danger Zone is 5°C – 60°C (41°F – 140°F). In all other provinces and territories in Canada, it is 4°C – 60°C (40°F – 140°F).

At the event, we were pleased to see that the majority of exhibitors demonstrated safe food handling practices and maintained high standards of hygiene. Specifically, we observed that exhibitors:

  • cooked samples of meat products in small batches to prevent uneaten samples from sitting at room temperature
  • refrigerated raw / cooked meat products when they were not being prepared or served
  • demonstrated efficient product storage and rotation techniques
  • ensured that booths were stocked with napkins / toothpicks to deter attendees from using their hands to touch food samples
  • managed waste control and disposal effectively
  • maintained clean and tidy booths

We also observed that there was room for improvement, specifically in relation to:

  • time and temperature control
  • monitoring the booth to ensure that attendees do not accidentally contaminate food

To ensure that food is safe to eat (and to guarantee the safety of the people who eat it), all Food Handlers must be adequately trained in food safety and must follow food safety best practices at all times. Events can introduce additional food safety risks — such as the general public / attendees themselves — but these risks can and must be managed just the same as in any food business.

Remember, a Food Handler isn't just your waitress or the cook in the kitchen; a Food Handler is anyone who comes into contact with food or with surfaces / equipment that come into contact with food. Well-trained and knowledgeable employees are more than just an asset; they are the face of your brand and their actions can have a direct and immediate effect on the company or business's reputation and bottom line.

Find out more about CIFS and food safety

At the Canadian Institute of Food Safety (CIFS), our mandate is to reduce food-borne illness in Canada through education and advocacy. We provide online training, continuing education and resources to thousands of Canadian food workers. Find out more about CIFS and how we can help you to protect your customers, your business and your brand.

Hope to see you all at the next SIAL Canada trade show!