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FDA’s Kevin Smith Receives Snyder Award From NSF and NEHA

In honor of NSF co-founder and first executive director Walter F. Snyder, the award celebrates contributions to environmental health.
Kevin Smith Headshot

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – NSF, a global public health and safety organization, and the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) announced today that Kevin Smith, Senior Advisor for Food Safety at the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) is the 2021 recipient of the Walter F. Snyder Environmental Health Award. Mr. Smith, who has dedicated his career of more than 30 years to safeguarding human health and safety, will receive the award on July 15 at the virtual 2021 NEHA Annual Education Conference.

2021 marks 50 years of NSF and NEHA presenting the Snyder Award, which commemorates Walter F. Snyder, co-founder and first executive director of NSF, and those who continue his legacy by making outstanding contributions to environmental and public health.

“Kevin’s lifelong career has been steeped in his service and commitment to the improvement of health for all. His monumental work in creating national food regulatory standards and food safety practices has ensured the health and safety of consumers across the nation,” said Kevan Lawlor, President and CEO at NSF. “Thanks to Kevin’s leadership and influence on food safety, his impact joins that of Walter Snyder and former award recipients in that it will endure and improve the quality of life in our society for years to come.”

Smith has played a fundamental role in the development, delivery and advancement of national standards that guide regulatory program implementation and set the bar for the design and performance of equipment related to food protection and environmental health. He was instrumental to the development and implementation of the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (VNRFRPS) and the Manufactured Food Regulatory Program Standards (MFRPS), which are used by local and state food safety agencies to develop consistent and sustained regulatory programs of excellence. Meeting the VNRFRPS and MFRPS is now the goal for food safety programs across the country that seek continuous improvement in program delivery.

In conjunction with the National Association of County Health Officials (NACCHO), Smith also spearheaded the design and funding of the Retail Program Standards Mentorship Program, which for over 10 years has brought together local health departments to use the VNRFRPS.

“Kevin is known across the food safety industry for his collaborative nature, deep experience in standards development and commitment to the broader picture. He always takes the time to thoroughly consider different viewpoints while being thoughtful, flexible and respectful,” said David T. Dyjack, Dr.PH, CIH, Executive Director and CEO of NEHA. “His abilities to engage others and enact change have been invaluable in building consensus when creating important national standards – many of which are now core to the work of food safety professionals and organizations throughout the nation.”

At CFSAN, Smith advanced FDA Retail Food Risk Factor Studies and was a primary contributor to the FDA’s Report on the Occurrence of Foodborne Illness Risk Factors – a series of landmark reports that elevated the objective examination of food safety practices in retail and foodservice operations and set the stage for follow-up studies that have transformed the areas of food safety auditing and inspection for the better.

In his current role at the FDA, Smith advises leadership on strategic initiatives and program development, leading nationwide efforts to combat food waste, promote food recovery and protect food from contamination during transport. He has provided consulting to programs and initiatives that seek to reduce food waste while addressing food insecurity and creating jobs, including ReFED’s Food Recovery Accelerator and Food Waste Action Network. His efforts to promote safe food donation and the standardization of date labels on packaged foods benefit food donors and food recovery organizations. His collaboration with experts in food safety, environmental engineering, epidemiology, laboratory analysis and public health has helped to create a more integrated food safety system and promote comprehensive food safety reform.

Smith played an active role in the FDA’s investigation into the incidence of foodborne illnesses linked to commercial food equipment such as deli slicers and soft serve dispensing freezers. He was instrumental in developing changes to consensus American National standards for equipment construction, which proved critical in preventing foodborne illnesses and ensured compliance with the FDA Food Code. As a result, regulators across the country were provided with a clear, uniform path for the difficult challenge of evaluating food equipment for compliance with regulations.

Smith has served in several leadership positions at the FDA, including Director of the Retail Food Protection Staff, Acting Director for the Division of Cooperative Programs and Consumer Safety Officer on the Retail Food Protection Team at CFSAN. Prior to joining the FDA in 2001, he was a Standards Development Program Manager at NSF, working on standards for a range of products including food equipment, swimming pool equipment, and wastewater and stormwater treatment technologies. He got his start in public health as a Sanitarian with the Ulster County Department of Health and the New York State Department of Health.

Smith has served as an active leader on numerous national committees, including on the Conference for Food Protection (CFP)’s Strategic Planning, Constitution and By-Laws, Food Recovery and Sanitizer committees. He has been a member of CFP Council III, a non-voting FDA consultant to CFP Council I and III, and the FDA representative to the Executive Board. He has been active in the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments, the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference, the Underwriter Laboratories’ Environmental and Public Health Council, NSF’s Joint Committee on Food Equipment, the National Automatic Merchandising Association’s Automatic Merchandising Health-Industry Council, the American Society for Testing and Materials Committee F26 for Food Equipment and more. He is a member and former chair of the Council of Public Health Consultants which oversees the public health ratification of NSF/ANSI standards. He has been a member of NEHA and the Association of Food and Drug Officials. Smith holds a B.S. in food science from the University of Delaware and an MPH in environmental health sciences from the University of Michigan.

Snyder Award nominations are open to the public with recipients selected by a juror panel of environmental health leaders. For more information about the Walter F. Snyder Award or to nominate a colleague for next year’s award, visit NSF’s website.

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About NSF

NSF is an independent, global organization that facilitates the development of standards, and tests and certifies products for the food, water, health sciences and consumer goods industries to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment. Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting human health and safety worldwide. With operations in 180 countries, NSF is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre on Food Safety, Water Quality and Indoor Environment.

About the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA)

The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) is a professional organization with more than 5,000 members in the public and private sectors as well as in universities and uniformed services. It publishes the peer-reviewed Journal of Environmental Health providing a valuable resource for the complete spectrum of environmental health topics. NEHA's mission, "to advance the environmental health professional for the purpose of providing a healthful environment for all" is fulfilled in the products and services offered by NEHA through training, education, networking, professional development and policy involvement.

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