As coronavirus containment efforts grow across the country, some event organizers, including those who are in charge of food safety conferences, are in wait-and-see mode.

Yesterday a top public health official said the virus, also being called COVID-19, is 10 times more deadly than regular seasonal flu viruses.

“Bottom line, it’s going to get worse,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said while testifying before members of Congress Wednesday at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

One action local and state governments are taking is the banning of events larger than certain numbers. In Washington state the top number is 250. In California groups of up to 1,000 are allowed.

Some large gatherings such as music festivals like the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin have been cancelled or rescheduled for much later in the year. Harvard is closing its campus and considering whether to cancel or postpone commencement services. Seattle has closed its public schools.

The same abundance of caution is forcing cancellation or rescheduling of some food safety events, too. The Food Safety Website events calendar is being updated as information comes in about the status of government, academic and industry events. We’ve reached out to the organizers of those events scheduled for the first half of 2020 and asked them to let us know their plans.

Although not everyone has replied, we’ve learned that the Food Safety Summit set for  May 4-7 outside Chicago is still scheduled. The summit organizers at BNP Media said the 22nd annual event will go on at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL. All educational offerings, networking events and exhibit hall activities are happening as scheduled. 

The leaders of the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP), who cancelled the group’s European Symposium set for April 7-9 in Munich, are still planning to proceed with the IAFP Annual Meeting on Aug. 2-5 in Cleveland, OH. 

“IAFP remains committed to moving forward responsibly with planning for IAFP 2020 over the dates of August 2-5 in Cleveland, Ohio. Based on information currently available, the meeting will take place as scheduled,” according to a statement released by the international organization.

The Institute of Food Technologists leaders say “this is a complicated and evolving situation that IFT continues to monitor closely.” At this time IFT leadership is still planning to go ahead with their annual event and food expo scheduled for July 12-15 in Chicago. 

“. . . we will maintain an open dialogue with our community and provide updates via the IFT20 website, the IFT20 exhibitor newsletter, social media, and dedicated emails to registrants and IFT community members,” according to the organization’s statement.

Organizers of these events and other food safety events are monitoring the spread of the coronavirus and will change their plans based on information from federal, state and local officials. Before you making travel plans, potential attendees are encouraged to contact individual organizations and keep an eye on the Food Safety Website Events Calendar.

Some websites that have information for travelers include:

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