IAOM 2018
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Investigating outbreaks of food borne illnesses can play a key role in preventing future outbreaks and identifying unsuspected gaps in the food safety system, said a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigator during a keynote address on April 11 at the International Association of Operative Millers’ (IAOM) Annual Conference & Expo in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.

Investigations also help people identify how and what went wrong, how the contamination occurred, identify new pathogens and new foods linked to outbreaks, said Karen Neil, PhD, epidemic intelligence service officer.

“The immediate aim of any food borne outbreak investigation is to identify the cause of the outbreak so we can stop it,” she said. “Overall, this can help reduce food borne illness by stimulating better practices, potentially better regulations, and better consumer education and understanding.”

This has been the case in investigations of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infections found to be caused by flour.

Flour first got on the CDC’s radar as a possible source of a 2009 outbreak with 77 illnesses across 30 states, Neil said. While flour was suspected, no root cause for contamination was identified.

“This outbreak really put flour on the map for us regarding STEC outbreaks,” she said.

Flour was the suspect in two more outbreaks in 2012-13 and 2015, but it was first confirmed in a 2016 outbreak that made 56 people ill in 24 states, Neil said.

A General Mills facility in Kansas City, Missouri, U.S., was identified as the likely source of the outbreak. Overall, 45 million pounds of flour were recalled.

There were additional downstream recalls of products made using that flour, for a recall that included more than 200 products and 30 brands, Neil said.

As a result of the outbreak investigation, several steps were taken to reduce the risk of future illnesses.

Karen Neil of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention delivers the keynote address at the annual IAOM Conference and Expo in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
“We identified that the risk of eating raw dough is not limited to Salmonella from raw eggs; it also includes flour,” Neil said. “It highlighted behaviors of consumers and restaurants that could make it more likely to get sick.”

It stimulated the food industry to modify package labeling to make warnings against consuming raw dough even more prominent and some moved toward the use of heat treated flour.

Addressing food safety concerns was also on the mind of several equipment suppliers exhibiting.

Food safety is the top request from customers, said Ricardo Fontenelle, technical sales adviser of Brazil-based Sangati Berga. The company is addressing that concern with plansifter sieves and frames made from polymer. The frames stack on top of each other without any connecting elements.

“Eliminating all those connecting elements like wood and rubber gaskets, which can be harmful, is a huge improvement for the industry,” Fontenelle said.

Along with the plansifter technology, Sangati Berga also was highlighting its new alliance with Kice Industries, Inc., based in Wichita, Kansas, U.S.

The businesses complement each other since Sangati Berga supplies milling equipment while Kice specializes in pneumatic conveying, dust control and filtration applications.

“The market needs someone local for anything related to support and spare parts,” Fontenelle said. “Kice is a very high-quality company; they have the contacts and they have the established markets.”

Together, the companies can offer a competitive, high tech turnkey mill, said Andy Forrester, director of sales, Kice.

“Our local support and service complements their manufacturing capabilities in Brazil,” he said. “Culturally, the companies are the same and we have the same goals and values.”

There’s a big opportunity to modernize and update the grain and milling industries’ aging infrastructure, Forrester said.

“There are a lot of requirements that are driving modernization in the mills,” he said. “It’s a great time to be starting a partnership like this.”

Satake is seeing significant growth in Africa and Asia, said Peter Marriott, sales manager, Satake Europe.

Africa is experiencing dietary changes, with a move toward flour-based products. There is also demand from niche markets for products that answer allergy issues, and ancient grains.

“We’re using some of the current technology to mill the ancient grains into new old products,” Marriott said.

New innovations are being introduced for remote access, he said. With that technology, Satake’s engineers can tap into a machine and help with issues an operator is having.

“Rather than jumping on a plane, we can give advice from a distance,” Marriott said. “It’s about getting machines up and running.”

Ocrim displays its immersive reality project, which allows users to virtually experience the inside of a roller mill. The technology earned Ocrim the Best Product Showcase Award at the expo. 

Ocrim receives honor

Ocrim received the IAOM 2018 Best Product Showcase Award for its immersive reality project that allows users to virtually experience the inside of a roller mill. The Ocrim team showed the immersive reality project to millers who visited their booth and let them experience the virtual experience of being inside an Ocrim roller mill and interact with the machine.

The use of immersive reality simplifies and perfects the work of designing a mill, and the identification of any errors, Ocrim said. It also provides innovative training, with a unique technology that allows futuristic developments even in the maintenance field.

The project, which combines the concept of gaming and the 3-D technology already used in Ocrim, was first presented last September in Cortona, Italy, during Ocrim’s event “Wheat, Flour and…”

Michael Weichman of ADM Milling Co. receives the 2018 Million Operative of the Year award at IAOM's annual banquet on April 12.

Miller of the year

Michael Wiechman, a longtime member of ADM Milling Co.’s operations support team, is the 2018 recipient of the Milling Operative of the Year award.

The award was presented April 12 during the IAOM Annual Banquet & Awards Ceremony.

Established in 1986 by Milling & Baking News, sister publication of World Grain, the award is given to the practicing milling operative who has made the most significant contribution to the progress of a plant, a company and the industry from an operating point of view.

Presenting the award was Wiechman’s colleague at ADM Milling, Ross Droogsma.

Droogsma noted that Wiechman, who has worked in a wide variety of roles during his milling career, always has led by example and treated co-workers with respect.

“He works tirelessly with those around him to make each mill safer, cleaner, more reliable, and more efficient,” Droogsma said. “Sometimes this involves training, sometimes capital expenditures, sometimes changing business practices, and always working with the people and producing positive results.

“Relationships are where it all begins with him. He knows people are our No. 1 asset, and this is where it all starts for getting something done, and he has proven this principle to be true time and time again.”

Droogsma said Wiechman’s positive outlook and enthusiasm for his job rubs off on his co-workers.

“This type of approach garners a lot of respect,” he said. “People enjoy working with him and benefit from doing so. Most wish that he could spend more time with them at their mills — but he is in high demand precisely because of what he does and how he does it.”

After accepting the award, Wiechman, who is based at ADM’s mill in Enid, Oklahoma, U.S., but travels to various ADM mills in the United States as a consultant on operational issues, said: “ADM has given me a great opportunity. Throughout my career I have learned more every day from everyone than what I add.”

 Also during the ceremony, the Distinguished Member Award was presented to Joel Hoffa, Cowley College milling technician instructor and former longtime employee at Mennel Milling Co.

“I’ve learned so much from all of you and I thank all of you,” Hoffa said upon receiving the award.

Others receiving awards at the banquet were:

  • Tom Reed, vice-president of North American Sales, flour milling division, REPCO, who received the Donald S. Eber Award, which is given to a district secretary/treasurer for outstanding service and commitment.
  • Jerry Heath, Industrial Fumigant Co., who received the George B. Wagner Memorial Award for his contribution to the industry and IAOM in the areas of sanitation and food protection.
    Jeff Hole, vice-president of operations, Miller Milling Co., Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., was inaugurated as the 2018-19 IAOM president.

Jeff Hole, left, incoming president of the IAOM receives the president's gavel from Steve Doyle who served as the organization's president in 2017-18.

Positive reviews

The conference, held in Atlanta for the first time since 1982, attracted 830 attendees from 23 countries as well as 126 exhibitors.

“Some of the IAOM leadership want Atlanta for future annual meetings because they were so impressed at how perfectly suited the venue is for our event,” said Melinda Farris, executive vice-president of the IAOM. “The official feedback on the venue and Atlanta received through our surveys was overwhelmingly positive.”

The educational program featured a notable change as on the second day of the event the usual concurrent sessions were replaced with two, one-hour presentations so that all attendees could sit in on the same sessions.

The one-hour sessions included a presentation by Jesse Leal of AIB International on how to manage regulatory inspections and a miller/allied trades panel that discussed topics such as blower maintenance, pneumatic system designs, sifter maintenance, roll corrugations and grinder efficiency.

“Overall, the one-hour sessions were very well attended,” Farris said. “We heard lots of great feedback on the panel discussion, in particular. Many people said the panel discussion could have continued for another 30 minutes to an hour and there would have been plenty to discuss.”