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.
In 2008, Maple Leaf Foods had a devastating outbreak caused by Listeria contamination at one of its prepared meats facilities. It resulted in 23 deaths and many serious illnesses. Since this tragedy, Maple Leaf Foods has committed to becoming a global leader in food safety and has invested significant people and financial resources in achieving this commitment.
Maple Leaf Foods is a leading consumer protein company, making high-quality, innovative products under national brands including Maple Leaf®, Maple Leaf Prime®, Maple Leaf Natural Selections®, Schneiders®, Schneiders® Country Naturals®, Mina®, Lightlife™, and Field Roast Grain Meat Co. ™.
Maple Leaf is one of Canada’s flagship food companies, with sales of $3.3 billion dollars, employing approximately 11,500 people and does business in Canada, the U.S., and Asia. Maple Leaf is headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario.
Michael McCain, President, and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods and Randy Huffman, Chief Food Safety and Sustainability Officer.
Michael has devoted his career to the food industry, starting at McCain Foods in the late 1970's where he held a variety of roles, including President and Chief Executive Officer of McCain Foods USA. He joined Maple Leaf Foods in 1995. Since then, he has been instrumental in establishing Maple Leaf as a strong and sustainable, values-based company with leading brands and a bold vision for the future.
Dr. Randy Huffman joined Maple Leaf in 2009 and is currently Chief Food Safety and Sustainability Officer at the company. This role encompasses Food Safety and Quality, Occupational Health, Safety and Security, Environmental Sustainability and Compliance, Animal Care and Corporate Engineering.
Randy also leads the company's Food Safety Advisory Council, a team of external experts with the mandate to increase Maple Leaf's access to global knowledge and expertise in food safety, including best practices, regulatory compliance, microbiology, and fostering a food safety culture.
Prior to joining Maple Leaf Foods, Dr. Huffman served as President of the American Meat Institute (AMI) Foundation, as well as Senior Vice President Scientific Affairs for 9 years at AMI.
In this episode of Food Safety Matters, we speak to Maple Leaf executives—Michael McCain and Randy Huffman about:
What food safety processes and programs Maple Leaf had in place at the time of the 2008 listeriosis outbreak
How complacency played a part in Maple Leaf's food safety crisis
The steps Maple Leaf took in the hours, days, and weeks after learning of multiple illnesses and deaths
How the tragedy led Maple Leaf to make a long-term food safety commitment to be a world leader in the food industry
How Maple Leaf's story can help other food companies improve and avoid a similar situation
What is believed to be the root cause of Maple Leaf's outbreak
The consequences of not properly addressing positive environmental results
The benefits of implementing a "seek and destroy" strategy
Staying on top of food safety and swab results with a daily conference call that includes executive leadership
The critical importance of segregation in ready-to-eat processing facilities
What Maple Leaf might do differently if an outbreak or recall were to occur today
The establishment of the Food Safety Advisory Council in 2009
How they commemorate the outbreak every August, particularly marking the 10-year anniversary in 2018
Frank Yiannas is the vice president of food safety at Walmart—the world's largest food retailer. In that role, Frank oversees all food safety—as well as other public health functions—for Walmart, serving over 200 million customers around the world on a weekly basis. His scope of responsibilities includes food safety oversight of Walmart’s stores, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Clubs. He is also charged with training and education of associates, food safety oversight of thousands of food suppliers, and a number of critical regulatory compliance issues.
Prior to joining Walmart in 2008, Frank was the director of safety and health for The Walt Disney Company, where he worked for 19 years. In 2001, under his tenure, Walt Disney World received the prestigious Black Pearl Award for corporate excellence in food safety by the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP).
As a frequent speaker at national and international conferences, Frank is known for his ability to build partnerships. He is also known for his innovative approaches to food safety. In 2008, Frank was given the Collaboration Award by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He is the 2007 recipient of the NSF International Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership in Food Safety, and the 2015 Industry Professional Food Safety Hero Award by STOP Foodborne Illness. Frank is also a past president of IAFP and a past vice chair of the Global Food Safety Initiative. He is also an adjunct professor in the food safety program at Michigan State University (MSU), and in 2017 was awarded the MSU Outstanding Faculty Award.
Frank is a registered microbiologist with the American Academy of Microbiology and holds memberships with several professional associations. Frank received his B.Sc. in Microbiology from the University of Central Florida and his Master of Public Health from the University of South Florida.
In this episode of Food Safety Matters, we speak to Frank about:
Traditional food safety management vs. behavior-based food safety management
Creating a successful food safety culture at Walmart
Food safety programs implemented at Walmart stores
Working with suppliers to improve food safety
Walmart's initiatives around poultry and deli meat safety
How Walmart associates use handheld technology for daily and periodic food safety checks
His thoughts on blockchain technology, what it is, how it can improve the future of food safety, and how it could have possibly prevented past outbreaks
How Walmart has started using blockchain traceability with some produce items
Working with small suppliers who may be exempt from federal food safety regulations
Dane Bernard is currently the managing director of Bold Bear Food Safety where he offers consulting services. Prior to that, he served as the vice president of food safety and quality assurance at Keystone Foods until 2014. That role also included responsibilities over global programs on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and food safety. Before that, Dane was the vice president of food safety for the National Food Processors Association (NFPA)—formerly the National Canners Association—an organization he joined in 1973.
Dane is a registered specialist in food, dairy, and sanitation microbiology with the American Academy of Microbiology. He has also done extensive testing of food processing systems, supervised research in many areas of food safety, and has authored/co-authored many technical articles. Dane has been an instructor and lecturer on principles and applications of HACCP and has helped to formulate HACCP plans for the U.S. food industry. He’s has been invited as an expert to five International Consultations—sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization—that dealt with certain aspects of HACCP, risk analysis, and other food safety issues.
Dane received an M.Sc. in Food Microbiology from University of Maryland, College Park. Finally, Dane received the Food Safety Magazine Distinguished Service Award in 2017.
In this episode of Food Safety Matters, we speak to Dane about:
How he got started in the field of food microbiology so early
His 28 years with the National Food Processors Association
Working in the U.S. Army as a food inspector
His thoughts on the shift from HAACP to HARPC (Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls)
How HACCP regulations originated and evolved over the years
The importance of soft skills and learning to work with other divisions within a single organization
His time at Keystone Foods
What it takes to be a good, effective manager
The challenge of getting management to approve additional resources for food safety
Why he hasn't totally and officially retired yet
Where he thinks the food safety needs to focus in the near future
We also speak with Hilary Thesmar (Food Marketing Institute) and Marianne Gravely (U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service) and about:
The processes that retailers use to minimize cross-contamination and keep consumers safe from allergens
The importance of accurate labeling and making sure that every food product only contains ingredients listed on the label
Food allergen labels and what is not required for meat and poultry products regulated by FSIS
The complexities of allergen labeling for ingredients within a supply chain
Allergen labels that are—and are not—required for some food products
Messaging efforts that FMI and FSIS have in place for their respective audiences
About Hilary Thesmar
In her role as the chief food and product safety officer and senior vice president of food safety programs for the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), Dr. Thesmar provides leadership for all safety programs for FMI’s retail and wholesale members and provides support for members on food safety training programs, FSMA training, recall plans and management, crisis management, research, and overall safety and sanitation programs. Dr. Thesmar has a Ph.D. in food technology from Clemson University, an M.Sc. in human nutrition from Winthrop University, a B.Sc. in food science from Clemson, and she is a Registered Dietitian. She has over a decade of experience in scientific and regulatory affairs with food trade associations.
About Marianne Gravely
Marianne joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Meat and Poultry Hotline staff in 1988. As the senior technical information specialist, she provides consumers with safe food handling guidance daily through phone, live chat, and email inquiries and is one of the persons behind the USDA virtual representative “Ask Karen” answering food safety questions. She also researches and writes materials for the Food Safety Inspection Service website, and handles media inquiries. Marianne has a Bachelor of Science degree in home economics with an emphasis on foods and nutrition from Hood College in Frederick, MD. She received her M.Sc. in human nutrition and foods from Virginia Tech.
Earlier this month, the Food Safety Magazine team gathered in Salt Lake City, UT for the Annual Meeting of the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP). The IAFP Annual Meeting was attended by more than 3,800 top industry, academic, and governmental food safety professionals from six continents. Each year, this premiere event for industry professionals convenes and discusses current and emerging food safety issues, the latest science, and innovative solutions to new and recurring problems. The meeting also presents opportunities to network with thousands of food safety professionals from around the globe.
While in Salt Lake City, we invited experts from across the industry to come to our booth and chat with us about all things food safety. Some of those impromptu conversations and interviews are included in our 30th installment of the Food Safety Matters podcast.
In this episode of Food Safety Matters, we spoke to a number of food safety professionals about a variety of hot topics:
Tim Stubbs, National Dairy Council (NDC)
NDC's role within the dairy industry, resources provided, etc.
Various food technologies including atmospheric cold plasma for packaging treatment, antimicrobial use in cheese, and more
Advances inl food safety and technology in the next three to five years.
Will Daniels, IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group
The romaine lettuce outbreak that originated in the Yuma, AZ, growing region (desert Southwest) and new food safety issues that have been brought to the forefront because of it
One health concept: Escherichia coli,Salmonella, and soil… the connection between the animal world and the produce world
Reducing microbial shedding events
Community relations and food safety
Lessons learned from the Earthbound Farms spinach outbreak
Communicating risk within an organization, and publicly
Paul Kiecker, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
His roles within USDA
What “modernizing” does (and does not) mean
What food companies should expect
USDA inspection roles (vs. U.S. Food and Drug Administration roles)
Top priorities at USDA in terms of modernization
Progress with pathogen sampling and whole-genome sequencing use
Salmonella as an adulterant
Standard setting for Campylobacter
Carmen Rottenberg, USDA
An in-depth conversation about USDA's study on consumer handwashing, meal preparation, and thermometer use
Sean Leighton is the vice president of food safety and quality for Cargill, based in Wayzata, MN. In August 2018, Sean will be moving into the role of vice president corporate food safety, quality and regulatory for Cargill when Mike Robach retires.
Prior to joining Cargill, Sean worked for over 13 years at The Coca-Cola Company in various roles across quality, food safety, and environmental sustainability. He worked in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
Sean has a B.Sc. in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Master of Science degree in Food Science from the University of Minnesota, and an MBA from Emory University.
Sean sits on the advisory board of many organizations, including the International Association for Food Protection's Journal of Food Protection, The Center for Food Safety (University of Georgia), the Grocery Manufacturers Association's Science & Education Foundation, and the Food Fraud Think Tank (Michigan State University).
Sean is also a member of the Food Safety Magazine Editorial Advisory Board.
In this episode of Food Safety Matters, we speak to Sean about:
Food safety vs. food quality culture
The difference between making safety decisions vs. quality decisions
How food safety and quality are sometimes at odds with other corporate departments and their business goals
Making the case for food safety when cost-benefit is at play
Building a food safety culture with the younger, millennial workforce, and dealing with quick turnover rates
Sean's thoughts on today's biggest food safety challenges
Connecting the dots between food safety, technology, finance, and all other parts of a business
How earning an MBA has shaped his career path
His mentors and influencers over the years
What he believes is the next big opportunity for food safety
In this special BONUS episode of Food Safety Matters, we focus on the topic of blockchain and how it can be used within the food industry.
You will learn all about what exactly blockchain is, its history, and how it can be applied to our food supply chain.
To help us better understand blockchain's use in the food sector, our editorial director, Barbara Van Renterghem, spoke with two experts from FoodLogiQ.
Katy Jones is the chief marketing officer at FoodLogiQ. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a master’s degree in data marketing communications from West Virginia University.
Charles Irizarry is the chief technology officer at FoodLogiQ. He oversees technology efforts and core company building activities at FoodLogiQ. His experience includes managing sophisticated, multi-disciplinary technology teams, having launched over 20 different platforms and products across multiple businesses and industries. With a background in distributed computing systems and cloud-based software architectures, Charles is currently focused on innovation in the areas of natural language processing, machine learning, and real-time computational networks. He has a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University in business management and marketing.
FoodLogiQ, together with a select group of customers, recently announced the launch of a Blockchain pilot. AgBiome Innovations, Subway®- Independent Purchasing Cooperative, Testo, Tyson Foods and others are partnering with FoodLogiQ to test the application of blockchain to raise transparency within their own supply chains.
In this episode, we speak to FoodLogiQ about:
The history and concept behind blockchain technology
How and why more people, companies, and industries are investing in blockchain, even if prematurely
How blockchain could potentially impact and benefit the food industry
"Public" vs. "permissioned" blockchains
FoodLogiQ's blockchain pilot
How blockchain might play a role in boosting consumer confidence in a time of many foodborne illness outbreaks and food product recalls
How food suppliers, manufacturers, and operators can prepare for blockchain
Prior to joining IIT, Dr. Brackett served as senior vice president and chief science and regulatory officer for the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
Before that, he served at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA's) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). His initial role there was as a senior microbiologist. After several promotions, Dr. Brackett was appointed CFSAN director, where he provided executive leadership to CFSAN’s development and implementation of programs and policies relative to the composition, quality, safety, and labeling of foods, food and color additives, dietary supplements, and cosmetics.
Earlier in his career, Dr. Brackett held professorial positions with North Carolina State University and the University of Georgia.
Dr. Brackett has been honored with the FDA Award of Merit, the FDA Distinguished Alumni Award, the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service, the International Association for Food Protection's President’s Appreciation Award, and the William C. Frazier Food Microbiology Award.
Bob received his doctorate in food microbiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a member of the Food Safety Magazine editorial advisory board.
In this episode of Food Safety Matters, we speak to Bob Brackett about:
The impetus behind starting IIT
IIT's collaborative research practices
His research on nanotechnology in the food industry and why he thinks that type of research has become less of an industry focus
The growing interest in researching the survival and elimination of pathogens from low-moisture ingredients
New technologies being used in food safety: high-pressure, pulse light, and cool plasma
IIT's Biocontaminant Pilot Plant
Current studies and research that may help to explain what happened in the recent romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak, and the 2006 spinach outbreak
Joint research with FDA that found an effective way to clean pipes and rid them of Salmonella bacteria in a peanut butter production facility
IIT's work with NOROCORE and norovirus interventions
What goes on at the Center for Nutrition Research, the Center for Process Innovation, and the Center for Specialty Programs
The most innovative developments to come out of IIT