From Concept to Career – Part 2
Amelia shares her story starting out as a Culinary student, but with some twists and turns along the way, is now on a Food Safety career path.
At the end of part one, Amelia talked about being introduced to a course offered at Niagara College.
Food Safety Program Optimization
I spent my reading week taking the first two SGS courses that are part of the Food Safety Program Optimization certificate, which turned out to be an eye-opening experience and a great learning opportunity. The classes are taught by Victor Muliyil, the Food Technical Program Assessor for SGS. Victor is pretty much a rock star in the food safety and auditing world, reaching almost 3000 audits in over 65 countries, which means heâ€™s seen it all!
The first two days, we covered the Hazard Analysis Risk Assessment Course. This course shows you how to identify food safety hazards, analyze risks and control the work environment. We were taught the most efficient way to identify potential hazards in establishments like food, wine, beer or spirit processing plants. This technique also works for hazards in social institutions like retirement homes, hotel chains, cruise ships, grocery stores and more.
Careers in Food Safety
We learned that once the hazards have been sorted into one of five categories, it is important to determine their sources and assess the potential risk. This is done by analyzing the potential frequency and the severity of the hazards if it occurs. The risks are then sorted into four tiers. The tiers go from highest to lowest risk, decreasing in accordance with focus on risk controls. As the conformance in hazard control increases, the risk rating and level of hazard decreases.
It was an experience in itself to hear Victor talk about his passion for food safety, as he explained the thought process that goes into controlling hazards in an engaging way that makes you forget you’re talking about food laws and regulations.
Along with how to implement a food safety strategy system, we also learned key advice to get the most out of a food safety plan. Victor says the biggest flaw he sees when auditing is a lack of communication within a company.
To have a successful and safe plant, all departments must be on the same page for what’s right and wrong in terms of food safety.
Another fault he commonly sees is a lack of commitment from the management of a company. He says, most of the time, management is concerned with the bottom line and doesn’t see food safety as a value-added activity. We learned that every employee must be invested and value the importance of food safety to run a functional strategy system.
Get out of the classroom!
The course also had many workshop and team activities, where we were able to try out the practices we had learned and see how much material stuck with us. It’s one thing to learn the theory of HACCP and the ‘ins and outs’ of food safety in school, but this brought our knowledge of food safety to life. You feel like you’re helping the world be a safer place by eliminating the risk of harmful hazards, one danger at a time.
The amount of information that I learned from this course was astonishing! It was a great introduction to the world of auditing – which was covered in the next course, taught over the following three days. Join me next week when I cover what I learned about auditing in the second course, and its opportunities within the food industry.
Written by Amelia Laplante Amelia is a Niagara College graduate pursuing a career in the Food and Beverage Industry. She has a background in Culinary Innovation and is passionate about exploring the many career paths within the Food Science world.
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