NSF International, a global public health and safety organization, has announced Dr. Jennifer McEntire, senior vice president of food safety and technology at the United Fresh Produce Association, as this year’s Food Safety Leadership Award recipient. Dr. McEntire developed United Fresh’s Produce Safety Immersion program to help accelerate the education and careers of aspiring food safety professionals.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that roughly 46 percent of foodborne illnesses each year can be attributed to contaminated produce. After identifying gaps in how produce handlers were trained, Dr. McEntire saw the need to shape training protocols to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Launched last year with the support of United Fresh, Dr. McEntire’s new year-long program offers 15 individuals the opportunity to build the technical competencies, critical thinking skills and leadership attributes required to ensure the safety of produce in the United States.
“Dr. McEntire continues to think beyond the status quo and pushes the envelope related to education and training in the food safety arena,” stated Jason Bashura, senior manager of global food defense at PepsiCo and award nominator. “I am optimistic that her approach of the Produce Safety Immersion program can be modeled for other facets of a truly integrated food safety system to help bolster, build and sustain a culture of food protection; one that encompasses quality, food safety and food defense within and across the food industry.”
During her 20-year career, Dr. McEntire has demonstrated a commitment to food safety, food safety education and the protection of public health. While at the Institute of Food Technologists, Dr. McEntire co-led the development of a career guidance program implemented in 18,000 U.S. high schools, encouraging youth to pursue careers in food science. She has also held senior leadership roles at the Consumer Brands Association (formerly the Grocery Manufacturers Association) and the Acheson Group (formerly Leavitt Partners Global Food Safety Solutions).
Dr. McEntire received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Delaware and earned her Ph.D. at Rutgers University as a USDA National Needs Fellow in Food Safety.
NSF International’s Food Safety Leadership Award recognizes individuals and organizations for real and lasting improvements in food safety. Nominations are evaluated by the Food Safety Summit Educational Advisory Board, which is a volunteer group of industry leaders representing manufacturing, foodservice, regulatory, academia, retail and distribution. Award winners are then selected by NSF International.
For more information on NSF International and its annual Food Safety Leadership Award, please visit www.nsf.org.