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.
Omar Oyarzabal, Ph.D., D.V.M., is an Extension associate professor and food safety specialist at the University of Vermont. He is a lead instructor for HACCP FSMA - Preventive Controls for Human Food, and Sprout Safety Alliance training. He is also a Certified HACCP Auditor and has taught food safety, bioinformatics, biostatistics, microbial risk assessment and management, and introductory HACCP classes for more than 15 years.
Omar's research expertise is the identification, typing, and control of foodborne pathogens, with emphasis on Campylobacter. Omar has worked for the National Food Processors Association, Neogen Corporation, Auburn University (associate professor, Department of Poultry Science), Alabama State University (associate professor, Ph.D. Program in Microbiology), and IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group. He received his Ph.D. in microbiology and food safety from Auburn University and his D.V.M. from the National University of Rio in Argentina.
Chirag Bhatt has been involved in food safety for 4 decades. After working with the local regulatory agency in the city of Houston for over 26 years. Chirag joined Bloomin’ Brands as their Global Regulatory Compliance Manager. Then Sysco Corp as Regulatory and Technical Services Director. And most recently with retailer Buc-ee’s, as a Director of Food Safety and QA before starting his own food safety consulting company.
He has served as Chair for the National Restaurant Associations Quality Assurance executive study group. And currently serves as an Education Advisory Board member with Food Safety Summit and is an advisory council member with Sani Professional. Chirag holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Chemistry.
Donna F. Schaffner, M.Sc., is the associate director for food safety, quality assurance and training at the Rutgers University Food Innovation Center. Donna has more than 20 years of experience as a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) specialist. She teaches FDA certificate programs in Preventive Controls for Human Foods (PCHF), Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP), general HACCP, Seafood HACCP, Better Process Control School, Food Defense, Intentional Adulteration – Vulnerability Assessments (IA-VA), and teaches microbiology and food safety classes in the U.S. and abroad. Donna holds Train the Trainer certificates for PCHF, FSVP, FSIS and FDA HACCP, and Seafood HACCP, and Lead Instructor certificates for PCHF, FSVP, IA-VA, Seafood HACCP, and Meat & Poultry HACCP. She also serves as a Qualified Individual for Microbiology and Food Safety for HACCP and Food Safety Teams for numerous commercial food processing companies around the country, as well as a consultant for many others. Donna received her Bachelor and Master of science in food science and technology from the University of Georgia.
Dr. David Acheson is the President and CEO of the Acheson Group; David has had a long and distinguished career in the food industry, probably best known for his work with the FDA where he held several positions including Associate Commissioner for Foods, which gave him an agency-wide leadership role for all food and feed issues, including health promotion and nutrition.
After his time with the FDA, Dr. Acheson was a partner at Leavitt Partners and managed Leavitt Partners Global Food Safety Solutions. In 2013 he founded The Acheson Group, a consulting firm which provides strategic advice as well as recall and crisis management support to food companies and ancillary technology companies on a global basis on all matters relating to food safety and food defense.
Phil Kafarakis is president of the Specialty Food Association, where he is an advocate and spokesman for the $140 billion U.S. specialty food industry. Prior to his appointment in 2016, he served as the Chief Innovation & Member Advancement Officer at the National Restaurant Association. He has held positions at Kraft, McCormick & Co., Cargill, and Jones Dairy Farm. He received an MBA from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
Will Daniels is president of the produce division at IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group. In this role, Will is responsible for lab and consulting services for the produce industry. Prior to joining IEH, Will was president and CEO of Fresh Integrity Group, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in operations and food safety consulting for the fresh produce and perishables industries. Prior to his involvement with start-up companies, Will was with Earthbound Farm from 1999 until 2014. Having leadership roles in both quality assurance and operations, he helped the company grow from a small, regional salad producer to the nation’s largest grower, packer, and shipper of organic produce. As Earthbound Farm’s Chief Food Integrity Officer, Daniels was responsible for food safety, food quality, and the company’s organic integrity program. Before joining Earthbound Farm, Will worked for 15 years as a consultant in the foodservice sector; working in the back of the house designing menus, introducing food safety and, improving costs; he even had his own catering business.
Will is a sought-after speaker and has addressed key issues in food safety in the produce industry at meetings of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Restaurant Association, the Institute of Food Technologists and the International Association for Food Protection. He was the keynote speaker at the 2020 Food Safety Summit. Will was one of the Packer 25 annual list of produce leaders for 2013 and was named one of the food industry’s top food safety leaders by Marler/Clark’s Food Safety News in 2013. He has also been featured in a variety of national news stories on food safety with media such as The New York Times and ABC News’s Good Morning America; he is the author of two book chapters, “Effectively Managing through a Crisis,” in Microbial Safety of Fresh Produce, published by Wiley in 2009 and “Pathogen Testing in Fresh Produce: Earthbound Farm,” in Global Safety of Fresh Produce; A Handbook of Best Practice, Innovative Commercial Collations and Case Studies, published by Woodhead Publishing in 2014. An active leader in the food industry, Will serves on a variety of boards and technical committees including the Food Safety Magazine editorial advisory board.
Joseph Corby is Senior Advisor of Food Safety Regulations for the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO). Joe Corby worked for the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets for 37 years before retiring in 2008 as the director of the Division of Food Safety and Inspection. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the International Food Protection Training Institute (IFPTI). He is also an instructor for IFPTI, Louisiana State University, the National Environmental Health Association, and the University of Tennessee. He has been an outspoken advocate for the advancement of a nationally integrated food safety system and continues to work with numerous groups and associations in support of this cause.
Erik P. Mettler, M.P.H., M.P.A., is Assistant Commissioner for Partnerships and Policy within the Office of Regulatory Affairs, FDA. In this role, Erik Mettler serves as advisor to the associate commissioner for regulatory affairs on the full range of Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA)'s activities, including partnerships, implementation of new laws and regulations, and overall strategic planning and prioritization. He is responsible for providing long-range strategic direction for ORA policies and programs, including the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Mettler holds a Master of Public Health from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and a Master of Public Administration from the University of New Mexico.
Steve Mandernach is the Executive Director of the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO), which unites high-level regulatory officials, industry representatives, trade associations, academia, and consumer organizations. Prior to becoming executive director in 2018, Steve was the bureau chief for food and consumer safety at the Iowa Department of Inspections. He is a past president of AFDO and current co-chair of the Association’s Laws and Regulations committee. He has a J.D. from Drake University Law School.