Q: How did you start your career in food safety, Angela?
A: I began my career working in quality assurance almost 25 years ago. My first role in a food company was as a quality grader in the lab.
As I moved on to different companies and different titles, I was fortunate to have great mentors early on and many companies that invested in educating me.
One experience rocked me to my core and forever solidified my appreciation for food safety: It was when my son, Luke, fell seriously ill when he was five due to Campylobacter, and we never found out how he got it.
That’s when it really hit home that a person’s health and life are in the hands of people we trust to handle our food as it moves from farm to fork. It made the importance of my job rise to a new (and very high) level. And, later when my son was 10, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which put him at a higher risk for foodborne illness. Because of this, my entire family needed to take a deep dive into food safety and proper food handling practices, too. Thankfully I had a lot of knowledge from my career that I was able to easily translate to our home life.
From the beginning, one thing that really resonated with me as it relates to work in the quality field is my enthusiasm (you might even call it an obsession!) for RULES. I’ve always been attracted to work that entails establishing rules and FOLLOWING them to get good outcomes. I just think it’s absolutely critical to do everything possible to make sure people actually do what they know they need to do from a food safety standpoint. We have to hold people’s feet to fire and keep them accountable. My own child who I watched suffer, combined with the heartbreaking stories of victims I’ve heard—especially people who’ve lost loved ones—keeps my passion alive and kicking every day.