2013 Food Safety Leadership Award Winners
Research Advances: Michigan Turkey Producers Co-op, Inc.
Detecting and eliminating foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella continues to be one of the greatest food safety challenges in the global food supply chain. Since its founding in 2000, the Michigan Turkey Producers Co-Op employed state-of-the-art facilities and processing techniques to help minimize the risk of pathogen contamination. It systematically looked at all steps related to animal welfare and pathogen reduction, and initiated extensive microbiological testing for Salmonella in 2011.
That year, 11.5 percent of ground turkey sold in the U.S. was voluntarily recalled due to potential Salmonella contamination while Michigan Turkey Producers consistently had among the lowest Salmonella rates reported in the industry. After attending USDA and industry meetings where producers shared their processes for controlling Salmonella, Tina Conklin, Michigan Turkey Producers Director of Quality Assurance, wondered whether her company’s unique humane handling practices were related to its low instances of Salmonella.
Under Conklin’s leadership, the group initiated widespread microbiological testing throughout its entire operation. The research yielded extensive data that showed very low levels of Salmonella on both the whole bird and ground products throughout all phases of processing. It also confirmed that the methods used at Michigan Turkey Producers, in comparison to more traditional processing techniques, are effective in significantly reducing the incidence of Salmonella and improving the food safety conditions of raw turkey materials.
A bonus characteristic that emerged from the research was that breast quality and yield had also dramatically improved. In addition, many of the day-to-day changes implemented have improved the facility’s overall efficiency.
“This group pays attention to ‘little things’ that are statistically significant, which propels them to the cutting edge of the industry. Significant advancements have been made because of its efforts. Visitors to the facility are always impressed by its efforts to promote food safety and by the sincere commitment of producer-owners, farm workers, line workers, and management supervisors. Their team play is infectious,” said Alden M. Booren, Ph.D., Meat Processing Consultant and Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University.
Training: Debby L. Newslow, President, D.L. Newslow & Associates, Inc.
Debby L. Newslow, a native of Needham, Massachusetts and a graduate of the University of Florida, has made many contributions to promoting food safety and quality training initiatives in the food industry. She has sponsored and conducted industry workshops on food safety, and is very involved in trade associations and governmental food safety initiatives. Her guidance has led to successful development and implementation of quality and food safety initiatives in companies throughout the U.S. and beyond.
Recognized as an expert in food safety and quality, and for her ability to translate complicated concepts into practical applications, Newslow is frequently consulted by industry members for advice and guidance. She is a sought-after speaker, presenting at industry meetings and short courses. Her published works (including the books The ISO 9000 Quality System: Applications in Food and Technology and Food Safety Management Programs - Applications, Best Practices and Compliance and numerous articles in trade journals) are used widely as references by the food industry.
Newslow conducts public workshops, instructing hundreds of industry managerial and technical workers in the areas of food safety and quality management, including ISO compliance, HACCP and HACCP prerequisite programs, food safety management systems, good manufacturing practices, food hygiene and crisis management. Her company also provides webinars and workshops at company sites.
Newslow has provided auditing and consulting for more than 200 companies on ISO implementation and food safety management systems. She is an IRCA Certified Quality Assurance Lead Assessor, American Society of Quality Certified Quality Auditor, Certified HACCP Auditor and Certified Quality Manager. She has received the Roy Wilson Sparkle Award, the Bob Olsen Award and the Florida Association for Food Protection Sanitarian of the Year Award. She is an advisory board member and regular contributor to FoodSafetyTech.com. She has served on the executive boards of the Florida IFT and Cultured Dairy Products Association, and on the editorial board of Food Protection.
“Debby is committed to possessing a deep understanding of food safety systems and philosophies. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, Debby also worked tirelessly to understand and translate the standards into practical business applications. This ability is one of the most striking qualities that sets Debby apart from many others in the training profession,” said Mike Burness, V.P. of Global Quality and Food Safety at Chiquita Brands International.
Leadership Trendsetter: Bobby Krishna, Principal Food Studies Officer, Food Control Department - Dubai Municipality
Bobby Krishna is influential in making food safety science more accessible to the food industry in the Middle East and India. He has opened channels of communication, created important resources for food safety practitioners and helped generate interest and scientific, reasoned debate on food safety best practices. He forged partnerships with international organizations to help the Dubai Municipality and region connect with the rest of the food safety world.
Krishna made significant contributions to establishing a risk-based approach to food safety in Dubai. He was instrumental in collaborating with WHO and the CDC to set up a foodborne disease surveillance and outbreak investigation system, which is now being implemented throughout the UAE. He played a major role in developing the Person in Charge personnel certification program, which trains food safety handlers and managers. The program is ISO 17024 compliant and features customized training and materials, including a food safety handbook published in the three most popular languages in Dubai.
He is the main driving force behind the annual Dubai International Food Safety Conference, which attracts 1,500 food safety professionals. The event has made Dubai the center of food safety activity in the region, helping it establish partnerships with food safety organizations and connect with regulatory agencies, academia and food industry professionals worldwide.
Krishna runs the website www.foodsafe.ae to educate families and businesses on food safety. He created an online discussion group, the Food Safety Clinic, to spread information on topical food safety issues and to link the Food Department of Dubai Municipality to the food industry. The group serves as a forum for interaction, discussion and networking for 950 food safety professionals.
Krishna is also helping improve food safety programs in India. He is working with the Food Safety Commissioner’s office in Kerala to set up a food inspection and grading system using the food safety handbook he wrote in Malayalam as a model.
“Bobby is dedicated to improving food safety and is well respected in the food safety and enforcement sector in the Gulf region. His work has increased the awareness of practical food safety measures among quality control professionals throughout the region, and our auditors have seen improvements in food safety awareness that can be attributed to his work,” said Peter Bracher, Managing Director of the Global Food Division, Asia-Pacific Region, at NSF International.
The 2013 NSF Food Safety Leadership Award independent panel of jurors included:
- Mary M. Adolf, M.S., R.D., Executive Director, International Pizza Hut Franchise Holders Association
- Shelley Feist, Executive Director, Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE)
- Donna Garren, Ph.D., Vice President, Regulatory and Technical Affairs, American Frozen Food Institute
- Jack Guzewich, formerly of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (retired)
- Ernest Julian, Ph.D., Chief of the Office of Food Protection, Rhode Island Department of Health
- Ronald S. Klein, formerly of the Food Safety and Sanitation program at the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (retired)
- Jim Mann, Founder and Executive Director, The Handwashing For Life Institute
- Donald Schaffner, Ph.D., President-Elect, International Association for Food Protection, and Extension Specialist in Food Science, Rutgers University
- David Theno, Ph.D., CEO, Gray Dog Partners Inc., Food Consulting
- Ewen C.D. Todd, Ph.D., President, Ewen Todd Consulting, and former Director of Food Safety Policy Center, Michigan State University