(March 22) WASHINGTON, D.C. — Companies selling food safety and security are doing well in this new era of extreme food insecurity.

That could be seen at the Food Safety Summit sponsored by the National Food Processors Association and the National Restaurant Association. This relatively new show has grown to 1,500 attendees and 150 exhibitors for the fourth summit. Key speakers were Tom Ridge, homeland security director under President Bush, and Lester Crawford, the new deputy commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, the de facto head of the agency in the absence of a commissioner.

“We’re proud to have one of our own heading FDA,” said John Cady, president of the NFPA.

Crawford formerly served as NFPA vice president and headed agencies at both the FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Cady said he also is happy with the growth of the summit and with the addition of the National Restaurant Association as a sponsor. The NRA has an extensive program aimed at training thousands of restaurant personnel in basic food safety.

Steve Anderson, NRA president, said his group has trained 1.5 million foodservice professionals in food safety. He said the nation’s 858,000 restaurants hire 11.6 million people to make restaurants “the nation’s largest employer.”

Out on the show floor, Will Sawyer, a doctor from Indianapolis, was leading “Henry Hand” by the ... hand. Henry Hand indeed is a 12-foot “hand” who is trying to drum up support for the “handwashing olympics,” a contest at the show that tests handwashing devices and sanitizers.

Now, next to cleanliness is iron-clad security. Companies were at the show selling lighting, access control systems, security equipment, perimeter controls, alarms, intrusion detection devices and surveillance equipment. They want to turn food handling facilities into fully secure venues protected against terrorists and any deliberate sabotage or contamination.

Aegis Security Design, Goshen, Ky., is ready to consult about how to meet new FDA security guidelines and prevent bioterrorism.

Jim Elder and Daniel Keller of Aegis said 57,000 food processing plants face a possible terrorism threat that needs careful assessment.

Other companies sell traceback systems, pest controls, microbial testing, irradiation equipment, laboratory services, water monitoring, cleaning and sanitation systems and products, ion beam accelerators, special packaging.

A Wichita, Kan., company, CropVerifeye.com, is wedding crop tracing with e-commerce to create what it calls the world’s first food tracking system with e-commerce capabilities. It is being marketed under the SmarTrace name.