Baltimore Disturbances Disrupt Food Industry Event

May 01, 2015

Street violence that prompted a citywide curfew in Baltimore this week curtailed attendance at the Food Safety Summit, an annual event that draws food safety professionals from throughout North America.

Weekend protests over the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody ended in violence, most of it concentrated in the downtown area, including Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, site of the safety conference and trade show. When the show began Tuesday, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced a weeklong curfew from 10 pm to 5 am.

Travel advisors already were recommending that food professionals planning to attend the summit to stay away. David Theno, a principal of Gray Dog partners Inc., was among those who cancelled travel plans. “I was leaving Tuesday a.m. when I learned several of our clients had been advised not to attend by their risk departments,” Theno wrote in a Thursday e-mail. “I have talked with several folks, and they relate it is a scary situation.” Theno was scheduled to speak at the conference Thursday.

Summit organizers claimed more than 1,200 people attended the show. Last year’s summit drew more than 1,300.

The 2014 show, also held in Baltimore, was marred by food poisonings of 216 attendees. Follow-up interviews pointed to Chicken Marsala served during the show’s second day as the probable source.

The 2016 summit will be staged in Chicago.