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Food Scientist – Quality Assurance Manager

I’m Amanda Kehres and I
am the quality assurance manager at Graeter’s
Manufacturing in Cincinnati Ohio. It’s
really easy to take for granted the fact that our
future shows up at the grocery store ready for
us to consume. You assume that it’s safe. The food scientists
and chemists and microbiologists that do
all the testing for all the safety and quality of
our products are kind of the front line against
illness and negative effects that could come
from the consumption of tainted products. On a
day-to-day basis I am responsible for making
sure the quality of the products that we produced
– frozen desserts, ice cream, sorbet, gelatos,
are all up to the quality that all of our customers
expect. So that means the consistency of our ice
cream, that means making sure that it is
safe chemically and bacteriologically whether
it be Ecoli, Listeria, Salmonella, any of
those different types of bacteria can be present
in a food facility and it takes a lot of attention
to detail for your sanitation and your
validation of all your cleaning procedures. One type of testing that
I do 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 or anything along those lines are
going to use the ATP. For example I do a lot of this
testing on hands just to make sure that our
employees are keeping clean hands. We also look for general
bacteria out in the environment, out in the
plant. I’m following up in certain areas and
swabing looking for bacteria. There are
definitely a lot of aspects to be a quality
manager. I do spend my time going back and forth
both on the manufacturing floor to build a high
rapport with all of the ice cream technicians but
also coming in and making sure that all of our
records are in place so all of our chart recorders
that prove that we’re pasteurizing the dairy
mix up to the proper specifications as well as
any forms that we may or may not need to fill out.
We are required to have a paper trail for nearly
everything that we do. We are regulated under
the ODA which is the Ohio Department of
Agriculture,their dairy division. We operate for
production four days a week 24 hours so the
demand for our product is very high. There is a
set recipe we need to make sure that 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
actually down there helping the guys make ice
cream. That’s just giving me an opportunity to see
things 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 sort of 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 so that if anything pops up like a
red flag, you’re able to notify your boss. This
way if we need to issue a recall or a halt in
production we can do so quickly and efficiently. Fortunately we’ve never
had to issue a recall but we do run recall drills
to ensure that our staff knows what they need to
do in the event of 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 which is
the American Society for Microbiologists.
Originally when I set out to get a biology degree I
intended to work more in the health care industry. When I graduated my first
job offer happened to be at John Morrell testing
meats. It definitely was really a life-changing
experience getting to see how important and how
thorough all of the food that we consume is tested
was really eye-opening. If you’re unsure of what
science or what type of food science you want to
be in I recommend going in labs and getting some
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 definitely
focus on all of the math courses, any science
course that you can get into – anatomy and
physical science, chemistry, anything like
that to give you exposure so that you know
what you like to do. It’s really impressive and
kind of mind blowing how much food safety has grown
in the past few years. The Food Safety Modernization
Act is really bringing a whole new awareness to the
food safety industry so as a quality manager or food
scientist you’re just realizing the sheer
importance of your role as it relates to people
in their everyday life.

Reader Comments

  1. My daughter in middle school needs to interview a food scientist for her science project. Would you please let me know if you can do it. Thank you.

  2. I'm gunning for this position in the company i work for. started off as a janitor and worked my way up.

  3. This is EXACTLY the job I want but I’m going to be getting my master’s in food science, not microbiology. (In a few years from now so I need guidance) Do I need another degree like micro or can I do this job solely with a food science degree? Thanks.

  4. Thank you.
    Your instructions are very practical, I need to apply them in my current job. This position is my dream career.
    best food best life.

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