By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
My Role at Giant Eagle
My title is Nutrition Specialist. I work on the Quality Assurance team helping to ensure that all Giant Eagle’s private label food products display nutrition information that is both accurate and compliant with FDA and USDA guidelines. On a daily basis, I review documentation from our suppliers, recipes from the R&D teams, and marketing materials all in an effort to make sure the customer is receiving the correct information by the time it is in their hands. My role requires me to work closely with a number of departments and to be involved in the process from choosing a supplier all the way to designing the product label. I even get to take part in taste testing along the way!
The Story Behind My Experience
As a student, I was exposed to the retail dietitian role on several occasions. However, all my experiences dealt with in-store dietitians. I knew that corporate dietitian roles existed but did not know much about them. When I accepted this job, I was not totally sure what to expect. In this role, I am much more behind the scenes than an in-store dietitian and work more with the regulatory aspects of nutrition. In that way, I have a large role in what trickles down to the store level and am involved in major initiatives almost from their inception. It’s definitely cool to see things from a totally different end of the spectrum.
The biggest challenge is keeping up with the constantly changing products! Until being in this role, I never realized how much can go into even a minor change in a product formula or the design of a package. Still, I find this to be one of my favorite parts of the job because I enjoy the fast-paced environment.
What I Wish I Would Have Known
One thing I wish I had known before starting my career as a retail dietitian would be the diversity of the title “retail dietitian.” As a student, I only learned about the in-store dietitian, but was unaware of roles like my own and others that still fall under the retail dietitian umbrella.
Anything that has moved you forward?
I think my willingness to learn about and be involved in activities outside of my role has helped me gain credibility with my team as well as a more holistic view of our company and my role within it. In this way, I feel like I can better perform my job because I know where I fit into the big picture and my value to Giant Eagle.
What have you done to equip yourself (skills and knowledge)?
While in my role, I regularly tune into nutrition webinars related to my field. Additionally, I research anything I have questions about. This has been particularly useful in expanding my knowledge of regulations set in place by the FDA and USDA which are the main driving forces behind the work I do. Overall, though, what has equipped me most for this job has been my time management skills. I have always liked to be involved in a lot of things at once, and that has definitely come in handy as a retail dietitian, because I am constantly working on a variety of projects. Knowing how to prioritize my tasks is key for meeting so many different deadlines.
Program or initiative you are proud of.
The program I am most proud to be a part of is Giant Eagle’s weekly meal plans. This is a new initiative that began in September in which five delicious recipes developed specifically for Giant Eagle are posted to our website for customers to prepare at home, simplifying the dinner-planning process for families. I am responsible for calculating the nutritionals and determining the appropriate dietary tags and allergen callouts for each recipe. This is a fast-moving program and it is exciting to see each set of recipes come to life on the website knowing that I helped to make it happen!