Global public health and safety organization NSF International has honored Dr. Jennifer McEntire, SVP of food safety and technology at the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association, with this year’s Food Safety Leadership Award. McEntire created United Fresh’s Produce Safety Immersion program to assist with the education and careers of emerging food safety professionals.
After identifying gaps in produce handlers’ training, she saw the necessity of changing training protocols to lower the risk of foodborne illness. Rolled out last year with the aid of United Fresh, the year-long program gives 15 participants the opportunity to develop the technical competencies, critical thinking skills and leadership attributes needed to ensure the safety of U.S. produce.
“Dr. McEntire continues to think beyond the status quo and pushes the envelope related to education and training in the food safety arena,” said Jason Bashura, senior manager of global food defense at Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo, and the person who nominated McEntire for the award. “I am optimistic that her approach of the Produce Safety Immersion program can be modeled for other facets of a truly integrated food safety system to help bolster, build and sustain a culture of food protection, one that encompasses quality, food safety and food defense within and across the food industry.”
Over the course of her 20-year career, McEntire has shown a commitment to food safety, food safety education and the protection of public health. While at the Institute of Food Technologists, she co-led the creation of a career guidance program introduced at 18,000 U.S. high schools, encouraging teens to pursue careers in food science. She has also held senior leadership roles at the Consumer Brands Association (formerly the Grocery Manufacturers Association) and the Acheson Group (formerly Leavitt Partners Global Food Safety Solutions).
NSF International’s Food Safety Leadership Award recognizes individuals and organizations for real and lasting improvements in food safety. Nominations are evaluated by the Food Safety Summit Educational Advisory Board, a volunteer group of industry leaders spanning manufacturing, foodservice, regulatory, academia, retail and distribution. Award winners are then chosen by Ann Arbor, Michigan-based NSF International, an independent organization that facilitates standards development, and tests and certifies products for the food, water, health sciences and consumer goods industries to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment.