With our focus on potential roles for retail RDs in food safety, we thought it would be ideal this week to feature a dietitian working in this area. Shannon Stover, MS, RD, who has been a Regional Food Safety Specialist for Meijer for four years, shares insights on her role with us.
How would you describe your role as a Retail Food Safety Specialist at Meijer?
I am responsible for providing food safety expertise and acting as the region's primary key resource for the stores and distribution facilities regarding governmental food safety regulations and internal Meijer Standard Operating Procedures. I am also responsible for ensuring uncompromising food safety performance through science-based Hazardous Analysis of Critical Control Point (HACCP) audits of the stores and distribution facilities, education of team members, leadership on the science behind food safety, and acting as a positive change agent by enhancing our food safety culture within our retail stores and supply chain.
My job includes the following responsibilities:
What do you love about your job?
I love that the food safety world is gaining momentum and interest with the public and the opportunities this creates to provide education to the public and our team members. As a Food Safety Specialist in Supply Chain, I am able to gain experience with not only retail, but also in manufacturing and distribution. This job is always exciting and challenging.
Meijer also provides excellent continuing education opportunities. I have been able increase my knowledge base by becoming HACCP certified, SQF certified, ServeSafe allergen control certified, SafeMark certified, SafeMark proctor certified, and have taken numerous leadership courses offered.
What has been your career path leading you to this role at Meijer?
I have been a RD for eight years and have a combination of 17 years in restaurants as a Clinical Dietitian, Food Service Director, and as a Retail Food Safety Specialist. I attended Michigan State University and graduated in 2000 with B.S. in Dietetics. After graduation, I did not follow the traditional path of the dietetic internship, but instead began my career in a long term care facility as the Dietitian and Assistant Food Service Director. I soon found my love was in food service production rather than the clinical side and worked hard towards becoming Food Service Director in my following two roles. In 2006, I did some research and found an online-based internship out of New York, SUNY Oneonta, and I was able to find preceptors in the necessary rotations in my area and complete the required course work online in the evenings. During this time, I was also attending MSU’s online program in Food Safety and working full-time after my internship rotations ended. I finished my M.S. in Food Safety and Toxicology in 2008 and also obtained a certificate in International Food Laws and Regulations. From there, I was the Director of Food and Nutrition at Rutland Regional Medical Center in Vermont. We loved Vermont but when the position opened at Meijer, I jumped at the opportunity to be part of a growing best in class Food Safety program.
Do you believe dietitians are qualified to lead and/or have a role in food safety and allergen control in the retail setting?
Absolutely. Dietitians have the science background to not only understand the risk-based approach to food safety but also the qualifications and skills to provide expert nutrition and dietary advice for consumers with allergens. The more we can highlight our expertise and educate our employers on our science background, the more RDs we’ll see in the retail field leading food safety or allergen awareness/education.
What training do you recommend for retail dietitians interested in taking a more active role in retail food safety and allergen control?
I would first recommend talking to others already in the field. The next would to become a certified manager in food safety or a certified manager in food allergens. Typically those courses will cost under $50, and it will give you a flavor of the field. Another good idea would be to become familiar with the 2013 FDA Food Code and read whatever else you can. There are several free food safety magazines and several email lists that you can sign up to receive the latest food safety and allergen information. And, of course, read the RDBA newsletter on a regular basis to keep up on the latest trends!
Tell us about Meijer.
Meijer is a leading supercenter located in six states throughout the Midwest with over 200 stores and more than 60,000 employees. Our Midwest geography includes corporate offices in Grand Rapids, Michigan and stores, distribution centers, and manufacturing facilities throughout Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, and Wisconsin. As a multi-billion dollar retailer, Meijer is ranked as the 19th largest privately held company in the country. We have become a respected leader in the competitive retail market by sticking to our core values of customers, competition, family, freshness, and safety & health.