US - Foster Farms’ Dr Robert O’Connor has been honoured with an award for food safety innovation.
NSF International, a global independent public health organisation, has honoured Robert O’Connor, DVM, senior vice president of technical services at Foster Farms, with a 2015 Food Safety Innovation Award. The award, announced at the Food Safety Leadership Awards ceremony during the Food Safety Summit in Baltimore, Maryland, honors outstanding breakthroughs in food safety and individuals who have made a lasting impact.
Dr O’Connor was selected for the award by NSF International’s independent panel of food safety experts for his leadership in developing a comprehensive Salmonella control programme.
Under his leadership, Foster Farms implemented a multi-hurdle approach to controlling Salmonella which extended through all areas of the company’s operations – from breeder stock, through grow-out, to the processing plant.
Since April 2014, Foster Farms has consistently achieved a Salmonella prevalence in raw parts of five per cent or less – an industry-leading level that is three times lower than 15.4 per cent parts prevalence standard proposed by the USDA in January 2015, and five times lower than the 2011-2012 USDA-measured industry benchmark of 25 per cent.
Dr O’Connor has actively shared the programme with the USDA, CDC and members of the poultry industry as part of a collaborative effort to improve Salmonella control nationwide.
Kevan P. Lawlor, NSF International president and CEO said: “We are pleased to recognise Dr O’Connor’s food safety contributions with an NSF International Food Safety Leadership Award in the category of innovation. His leadership and enthusiasm in applying science-based methods and encouraging information-sharing embodies the spirit of this award and our mission of protecting and improving human health.”
Ron Foster, Foster Farms president and CEO, commented: “All of us at Foster Farms are proud of Dr O’Connor’s accomplishments and his dedication to continual advancement in poultry health and food safety – not only for the benefit of our company, our consumer and customers, but for the entire industry. Dr O’Connor’s dedication is helping to advance poultry production throughout the United States.”
As part of the food safety programme, Dr O’Connor recruited and formed a Food Safety Advisory Board, an independent group of food safety experts, to inform and validate the company’s strategic approach and assess best practices for continuous advancement. He also led the National Chicken Council’s working group on Salmonella reduction and continues to participate as an active member.
Dr O'Connor said: “I am honoured to receive this award and would like to recognise my staff and company leadership who applied countless time to this effort, as well as our food safety advisors who also contributed to the programme’s success.
“Food safety is a complex issue that requires collaboration and data-sharing. All producers have a stake in improving the quality of American foods and the welfare of the birds in their care,” he added.
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