NSF announces 2009 Food Safety Leadership Awards winners

Source of Article:  http://www.ift.org/news_bin/news/news_home.shtml

4/06/2009-NSF International, a not-for-profit public health and safety organization, has announced the 2009 recipients of the sixth annual Food Safety Leadership Awards. This award recognizes influential individuals that have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the food industry. The winners will be announced at the 2009 Food Safety Summit’s opening night reception on April 27, 2009. Nominations for the awards for reviewed by an independent panel of experts in the food industry. This year, NSF presents a lifetime achievement award, one award in the education and training category, and four in the system improvement category.

Lifetime Achievement Award in Packaging and Distribution
Phillip Minerich
Vice President of R&D, Hormel Foods Corp.

Minerich and his team have initiated a new food safety project that explores new applications for existing technologies, including researching all types of food safety interventions internationally, analyzing and validating scientific claims, and identifying how it would be useful for Hormel Foods product lines. During this time, his team applied the science that involves using High Pressure Processing (HPP) to package protein products. This resulted in the development of Hormel Natural Choice meats. Today, because of Dr. Minerich’s contributions, public health and food regulation agencies have better methods for contamination detection and communicating events happening at a rapid rate. A member of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Minerich holds three patents for development of a pressure indicator for high hydrostatic pressure processing of foods, packaging methods and products, and a container for active microwave heating.

Awarded in Education & Training
Carl Winter
Dept. of Food Science and Technology, Univ. of Calif.

Over the past decade, Winter has developed a unique musical approach to spread critical food safety messages to hundreds of thousands of food safety educators, teachers, food handlers, health professionals, and consumers. Dr. Winter received a grant from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) as the Principal Investigator for the project “Improving Food Safety Education through the Use of Music-Based Curricula.” Winter studies the effectiveness of incorporating music into food safety curricula that was developed for high school students, foodservice managers and supervisors, culinary arts teachers and students, family and consumer sciences teachers, and youth (8–12) enrolled in summer nutrition programs. Winter is a professional member of IFT.

Awarded for Systems Improvement, Water
The Coca-Cola Co.

To ensure a high standard of water, the main ingredient used in its products, The Coca-Cola Co. has moved beyond end-of-pipe treatment to modern risk management frameworks such as HACCP, a preventive approach used in the food industry to identify, reduce and eliminate potential food safety hazards. The company is also striving to promote Water Safety Plans as part of its Source Water Protection Standard, which requires each Coca-Cola division to develop a program that manages water quality and sustainability, and improves source water management practices across its expansive bottling system. By integrating this new approach, The Coca-Cola Co. has partnered with the International Water Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other agencies and universities dedicated to implementing risk management strategies that benefit consumers of piped water and packaged beverages. The company supports effective engagement of the world’s largest beverage distribution system in water risk management schemes, from catchments to the tap or the bottle.

Awarded for Systems Improvement, Community
Greenville County Schools Food and Nutrition Services
Greenville County Schools

The Greenville County School Food and Nutrition Services implemented a Health Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) program in 86 schools and 12 satellite locations in the face of budget constraints, limited time, and the challenge of training 650 employees across various locations. This highly-motivated team of professionals conducted trainings every six weeks until every school was equipped with properly-trained food safety workers and an effective HACCP program. As a result of the training, the scores in food safety audits have increased 12 points over a two-year period and critical non-conformances have decreased by 79% in the same period. Greenville County Schools Food Nutrition Services is being commended for their effective implementation of wide-reaching food safety program that not only helped increase awareness of the importance of food safety and improved quality, but it also increased communications between management and personnel at all school levels.

Awarded for Systems Improvement
Joseph Reardon
North Carolina Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Joseph Reardon directed the Castleberry Recall, the first public health recall in over 30 years where Clostridium botulinum has been identified as a causative agent between canned product and foodborne illness. His exceptional work to mobilize and deploy over 1,000 state personnel to 16,000 facilities in 15 days was executed with the urgency and organization that is crucial to effectively managing a public health crisis. As a result, Reardon and his team removed 35,000 cans of product from the shelves within three short weeks. Reardon’s staff provided a model for the prompt establishment of an Incident Command System during a food safety crisis through effective and streamlined communications and data collection using Web-based technology.

Awarded for Systems Improvement
Steve Robinson
Dole Fresh Vegetables

Steve Robinson is responsible for creating a groundbreaking food safety application that currently tracks freshly-harvested spinach from the point of harvest in the fields, through transport to processing and weigh scales, through weighing, through the flash cooling tubes, and into the cold storage warehouse. This food safety application for tracking food from its origins to shelf was found to reduce the amount of time it takes to trace a specific lot to its origin. Although Robinson concedes that this is not a permanent solution for preventing foodborne illness, it serves as an important safeguard to improve the response time and precise effectiveness to such threats, which could result in less people infected in the case of a foodborne illness outbreak. It also provides extensive operational feedback, which allows for process improvement, and a reduction in spoilage and recall volumes. Future plans call for extending the tracing system beyond the point of storage to include tracking the spinach all the way to the retail shelves.



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