Home » Multimedia » Podcasts » Food Safety Matters » Ep. 136. Dr. Jovana Kovacevic: Mitigating Listeria through Innovation
Food Safety Matters
Food Safety Matters is a podcast for food safety professionals hosted by the Food Safety Magazine editorial team – the leading media brand in food safety for over 20 years. Each episode will feature a conversation with a food safety professional sharing their experiences and insights of the important job of safeguarding the world’s food supply.
Jovana Kovacevic, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor and Food Safety Extension Specialist at Oregon State University’s Food Innovation Center (OSU’s FIC) in Portland, Oregon. In her current role, Dr. Kovacevic directs the food safety program at FIC and the Western Regional Center to Enhance Food Safety, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Her research uses molecular methods and whole genome sequencing to trace, better understand, and prevent contamination events in the food chain, with particular focus on Listeria monocytogenes. Her work with the Western Regional Center supports the Western U.S. region in food safety training, education, and outreach activities related to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Prior to joining OSU, Dr. Kovacevic held various positions, including a lecturer at the University of British Columbia, a food safety consultant with the British Columbia Ministry of Health, and a Food Safety Scientist at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control in Canada.
Adam Friedlander is a Policy Analyst in FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) Network, where he helps lead the agency’s efforts to advance strategic, tech-enabled traceability initiatives under the New Era of Smarter Food Safety. Through collaboration and by leveraging the power of data, he hopes to help transform the food system to become more digital, transparent, and safe for consumers around the world. Adam graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. degree in Food Science and Operations Management and a minor in Music. He received his M.S. degree in Regulatory Affairs of Food and Food Industries from Northeastern University.
Joseph (Joe) Lasprogata is a longtime seafood veteran with over 30 years in the industry. His love and passion started with his degree in Marine Biology, which took him to several corners of the world to source the best and most unique seafood available, assisting top chefs with menu development, and helping introduce, develop, and distribute over 30 million pounds of seafood annually. As Vice President of New Product Development at Samuels Seafood, he works directly with producers, aquaculture, and multiple non-governmental organizations to introduce new products and develop successful brands. Joe has a true appreciation and unique insight to the seafood industry and its potential upcoming challenges. Most recently, he developed a digital traceability system to comply with both FDA shellfish regulations and the newly instituted Food Traceability Final Rule, FSMA Section 204.
Trevor Craig is the Corporate Director of Technical Training and Consulting at Microbac Laboratories. He is responsible for the direction of Microbac’s food testing, consulting with food manufacturers across the country to help decision-makers optimize their businesses from lab to production to sale. He has been working in the food industry for more than 15 years. He previously worked at other large labs across the country on hundreds of different projects and product types, conducting shelf life, accelerated, and challenge studies for each lab. Trevor’s first role in the industry involved working for an ingredients company with applications to food and agriculture, including antimicrobials used for shelf stability.
Microbac Laboratories helps clients manage food quality and safety risks to protect consumers and their brands. The company’s industry expertise and analytical strength supports food safety programs for compliance with FSMA regulations. Microbac Laboratories serves all food industry segments with services to meet unique needs. Microbac Laboratories offers numerous food testing services including allergen detection, nutrition testing and labeling, GMO analysis, ingredient authenticity, molecular testing, Cyclospora testing, and environmental monitoring.
John Gurrisi, R.E.H.S., is Vice President of Food Safety and Quality (FSQ) at Fresh Express. He has broad food safety responsibility for growing, manufacturing, new product assessment, customer collaboration, supplier management, and regulatory compliance. He leads a multidisciplinary food safety and quality team covering the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, and directs a multimillion-dollar implementation and investment budget.
German Rios is the Senior Director of FSQ for Fresh Express. He is responsible for food safety and quality assurance in growing, manufacturing, new product development, and customer collaboration. From a food safety standpoint, he manages the Fresh Express raw partner product program and ingredient suppliers, encompassing the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. In addition, German guides Fresh Express raw product suppliers on an ongoing basis, and leads the Fresh Express raw product growing and harvesting strategy in Central Mexico.
In this episode of Food Safety Matters, we review the top food safety stories of 2022 and their impacts, the lessons learned, and what the future may hold in 2023 and beyond. Specifically, we discuss COVID-19 and the supply chain, FDA’s Agricultural Water Proposed Rule, food safety culture, the infant formula crisis, USDA-FSIS’ proposed regulatory framework for reducing Salmonella in poultry, the FSMA Food Traceability Final Rule, and the Reagan-Udall Foundation’s review of FDA’s Human Foods Program.
Sandra Eskin was appointed Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in March 2021. In this role, Sandra leads the Office of Food Safety, overseeing the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which has regulatory oversight for ensuring that meat, poultry, and egg products are safe, wholesome, and accurately labeled.
Prior to joining USDA, Sandra was the Project Director for Food Safety at The Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, D.C. for over 10 years, and also served as the Deputy Director of the Produce Safety Project (PSP) from 2008–2009, a Pew-funded initiative at Georgetown University. Prior to The Pew Charitable Trusts, Sandra spent nearly 20 years as a public policy consultant to numerous consumer advocacy and public interest organizations, providing strategic and policy advice on food and drug safety, labeling, and advertising. She has served as a member of multiple federal advisory committees related to consumer information on prescription drugs, meat and poultry safety, and foodborne illness surveillance.
Vanessa Coffman, Ph.D. is the Director of the Alliance to Stop Foodborne Illness. She has a diverse background in food safety and sustainability, with a focus on environmental exposures across the food system. Dr. Coffman has conducted various research for the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), on topics such as farming opportunities in post-war Sierra Leonne, occupational and residential exposures from large pork production operations in rural North Carolina, and the association between nitrate in drinking water from food animal operations and fetal health outcomes. Dr. Coffman previously worked at Stop Foodborne Illness as a policy analyst, and she has testified in front of U.S. government officials, authored peer-reviewed papers, and helped draft federal regulations.
Dr. Coffman received a Ph.D. in Environmental Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and an M.S. degree from the University of California–Berkeley in Global Public Health and the Environment.
Sherry Brice-Williamson, M.B.A. is the Vice President of Global Quality and Food Safety at the Kellogg Company, where she oversees end-to-end food safety and quality for Kellogg's internal and external network. Sherry has over 20 years of experience in the industry and joined Kellogg in 2012 as part of the Pringles acquisition from P&G. She has served in numerous supply chain roles in the company, ranging from operations to quality. Sherry was promoted to Vice President of Global Food Safety and Quality in January 2020.
Sherry is on the SSAFE board of directors and is affiliated with a number of other industry associations such as Stop Foodborne Illness, where she is an Alliance member. Sherry also co-chairs the national chapter of KAARG (Kellogg African American Resource Group). Sherry holds B.S. and M.B.A. degrees in Business Management and is a member of the Golden Key International National Honors Society.
Megan Kenjora, M.P.A. is the Senior Manager of Food Safety Culture at The Hershey Company, where she leads a diverse global team to embed food safety in the hearts and minds of all Hershey employees. Megan has extensive experience building relationships among diverse groups, getting cross-functional support, and effectively communicating messages across cultures.
Megan was an engaged member of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Technical Working Group that authored the GFSI position paper, “A Culture of Food Safety,” and served as the inaugural chair of the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) Food Safety Culture Professional Development Group. Bringing a passion for food safety culture, she currently serves on the planning committee and numerous working groups as part of the Alliance to Stop Foodborne Illness.
A combat veteran who served eight years in the U.S. Army, Megan came to Hershey in 2014 from Raytheon, where she specialized in adult learning for various intelligence courses. She is a lifelong learner and an advocate for DEI, serving as a co-lead for the Hershey Veterans Business Resource Group. Megan is an M.B.A. candidate at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, and she holds an M.P.A. from Penn State University, B.A. degrees in Political Science and Classics from Bucknell University, and a Korean linguist certification from the Defense Language Institute.