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Career Connections: Food Science Quality Manager

6 minutes

I'm Amanda Kehres, and I'm the quality assurance manager at Graeter's Manufacturing in Cincinnati, Ohio. It's easy to take for granted that food shows up at the store ready for us to consume. You assume that it's safe. The food scientists and the chemists and microbiologists that do all the testing for all the safety and quality of our products are the kind of front line against illness and negative effects that could come from the consumption of tainted products. Day to day, I am responsible for making sure the quality of the products we produce-- the frozen dessert, ice cream, sorbet, gelatos-- are up to the quality that our customers expect. That means the consistency of our ice cream, that means making sure that it is safe, chemically and bacteriologically. Whether it be E. coli, listeria, salmonella, any of those different bacteria can be present in a food facility. It takes attention to detail for your sanitation and your validation of all cleaning procedures. One type of testing is what's called ATP testing. It's a very quick way to look for bacteria. Most manufacturing facilities, whether it be pharma or food manufacturing, anything along those lines are going to use the ATP. For example, I do testing on hands to make sure employees are keeping clean hands. We look for bacteria in the environment, in the plant. I'm following up in certain areas and swabbing, looking for bacteria. There are a lot of aspects to being a quality manager. I go back and forth both on the manufacturing floor to build rapport with all of the ice cream technicians and making sure all of our records are in place. All of our chart recorders that prove that we're pasteurizing the dairy mix to the proper specifications, as well as any forms that we may need to fill out. We are required to have a paper trail for nearly everything we do. We are regulated under the ODA, the Ohio Department of Agriculture, their dairy division. We operate production 4 days a week, 24 hours, so the demand for our product is very high. There's a set recipe. We make sure we're following that recipe. We manufacture all of our ice cream in small batches, so we have 32 French pots down on our manufacturing floor. A lot of times I'm down there helping make ice cream. That gives me an opportunity to see through their eyes and to get exposure to every different task that goes into making our ice cream, so that I'm aware and involved and can investigate any quality defect or issue that may pop up. One of the major responsibilities as a food scientist and a quality professional is to be aware. If anything pops up, like a red flag, you're able to notify your boss. If we need to issue a recall or a halt in production, we can do so quickly. Fortunately, we've never had to issue a recall, but we do run recall drills to ensure our staff knows what they need to do in a recall. In most science careers, you need at least a bachelor's. There are a lot of certifications, depending on what type of science degree you have. For example, I have a certification as a registered microbiologist, concerning food. It was through ASM, the American Society for Microbiologists. Originally, when I set out to get a biology degree, I intended to work more in the healthcare industry. When I graduated, my first job offer happened to be at John Morrell, testing meat. It definitely was really a life-changing experience, getting to see how important and how thorough the food that we consume is tested. It was really eye-opening. If you're unsure of what type of food science you want to be in, I recommend going in labs and getting hands-on experience. I believe the internships and the hands-on in any lab that you can get into is extremely important. It shows that you are competent. In high school, I would focus on all of the math courses, any science course you can get into, anatomy, and physical science, chemistry, anything like that to give you exposure so you know what you like. It's really impressive and kind of mind-blowing how much food safety has grown recently. The Food Safety Modernization Act is really bringing a whole new awareness to the food safety industry, so as a quality manager or a food scientist, you're just realizing the sheer importance of your role as it relates to people in their everyday life.

Funding to purchase and make this educational production accessible was provided by the U.S. Department of Education:

PH: 1-800-USA-LEARN (V) or WEB: www.ed.gov.

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Enter the world of food safety as a food scientist discusses his work in an ice cream factory. Learn how high school is the time to begin preparing for a career that keeps food factories clean and consumers safe and healthy. Part of the "Career Connections" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 6 minutes

Career Connections
Episode 1
5 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 2
6 minutes
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Episode 3
3 minutes
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Episode 4
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Episode 5
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Episode 6
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Episode 7
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Episode 8
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Episode 9
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Episode 10
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