[Sani Professional] How did you get involved in food safety and what drives your passion for it?
[Cindy Jiang] There was a big foodborne illness outbreak in 1993 in the United States. As a food chemist, I had the opportunity to work on projects in understanding beef patty cooking validation, E. coli O157:H7 rapid testing method evaluation, and risk assessment. At the time, my boss was a fine microbiologist and a great mentor who valued my technical skills and helped to shape my development in the field of food safety. I love science and am eager to learn new things—food safety always has something new from new detection methods for pathogens to ways to control/eliminate hazards. Around 2006, I had the opportunity to be part of the industry effort to harmonize food safety management system and audit standards. That project really solidified my passion for food safety at the global level.
[SP] Tell us briefly about your Sani Award-winning food safety program. How is it different and how does it drive results?
[CJ] It is a great honor to be the recipient of the Sani Award in the area of food safety leadership in the foodservice industry. Foodservice companies play a huge role in serving safe food to customers every day. Food Safety Leadership is about enhancing food safety standards and practices by working with internal and external stakeholders. Food safety is not about a single department or single person; it is about integration. Food safety leadership is also about bringing more people and organizations together to share knowledge and best practices to ensure a safe food system globally.
[SP] What was your favorite part of the Sani Awards™ experience?
[CJ] To be nominated by renowned food safety experts and to be presented the award in front of food safety professionals in the industry, government, and academia was a special moment in my life. I appreciate the Sani Award Nomination Committee’s work in selecting me to be the winner of 2019’s Food Safety Leadership award.
[SP] What are you most excited about in food safety for 2019 and beyond?
[CJ] I am excited by the development of more digital and data driven technologies and platforms which enable better food safety compliance from farm to fork. That said, food safety is about people. A positive food safety culture shall be shared among all stakeholders to ensure a safe food supply; everyone has to take responsibility for food safety. Elevating food safety culture is an area in which we all need to continue to learn, perform, and share best practices.
[SP] What message would you tell someone just getting started in the foodservice or food safety industry?
[CJ] First, you need to learn the basics and perform to meet your job expectations. Second, be innovative and willing to adopt new science and technology to improve food safety practices and learn from failure. Third, you want to make time to network; networking enables you to learn from others outside of your job function and practice leadership skills. Lastly, have some fun along the way.