This article appeared in the Florida Association for Food Protection (FAFP) December 2015 Issue of FAFP Connections.

We are pleased to present the Winter 2015 FAFP Spotlight Member –Debby Newslow, President, D. L. Newslow & Associates, Inc. Based in Orlando, Florida

Hello Ms. Newslow, Thank you for being the “Spotlight” person for the FAFP Newsletter.

Debby, when did you first join FAFP?
1973

What led you to go into the food safety field?
I started my “food science” career as a quality manager in a dairy – from there joined Coca-Cola Minute Maid as an R & D Scientist later returning to Quality as a Corporate GMP and Quality Auditor. As the industry moved into ISO, Juice HACCP and application of the food safety concept beyond just quality concerns – the transition to a focus on food safety was a natural journey. It has always been “assumed” that we can’t have quality without food safety but the industry has learned quickly that we can’t just “assume”. We need to separate and focus on hazards that can directly or indirectly specifically affect the safety of our products.

For students interested in food safety, could you tell us what company you work for and how the food industry has guided your career?
Presently I work for my own company but this did not just happen. Students beginning their career should do everything possible to gain experience. We cannot teach experience. My first boss, Dave Fry (past president FAFP & IAFP) told me that my degree showed him I had the ability to learn and that working in the industry the learning was just beginning. I was young and thought he was crazy but as I look back he could not have been more correct. As a student or as a new professional, strive for as much learning and experience as you can gain. Also enhance your people skills through course work and interactions. All the knowledge in the world doesn’t help us unless we know how to communicate.

What do you like most about your job?
I really enjoy seeing different types of operations. I am told that I am living a food scientist’s dream because one week I might be in a pet food company, the next a dairy, the next a candy factory, etc. I also enjoy meeting people. I have met a lot of very talented and just great individuals. I have learned and shared information with folks that I never would have had the opportunity to do so if it wasn’t for the great world of food science.

As an experienced trainer, what do you see as the most pressing Food Safety trend or issue facing the industry today? 
The most “challenging” issue is creating an environment of consistent safe food manufacturing and handling. Unfortunately, over the years, we have created and got away with some poor practices. In today’s world we can’t learn from our mistakes but not make those mistakes. However, management commitment and buy in many times is that we have always done it that way. It is tough to justify to management why we have to change what we have always done when nothing has ever gone wrong. It is tough to present a dollar savings on something that has not happened. Compare this to the 11 lost lives, billions of dollars expense and unknown cost to the environment of the BP disaster oil spill of 2010. It is said that this would have been avoided by spending $120,000 and ten hours to test the glue. But there was not time for this. We can no longer function with the attitude that “we don’t have time to do it right, but we have time to do it over.”

Would you say the industry is getting over regulated or are regulations finally headed in the right direction?
This is a hard question. I don’t think we are over regulated; we just have to be sure that we don’t define a “wish list” that can’t be achieved. The GFSI approved food safety schemes have moved us for ward in the world of food safety. However, like everything else, these systems are only a tool. We must develop, implement, and maintain these systems in a manner that adds value for the organization.

As a long time sponsor of FAFP we try to encourage sponsor members to become active participants. What would you say to other vendors about becoming an FAFP sponsor?
I personally feel that being a sponsor is an honor. FAFP is an excellent organization led by an excellent membership team. I think that vendors and organizations should support this group. As a supporter, I am proud that we are able to do this – the FAFP Team really appreciates our efforts and supports us in return.

What benefits do you get from being an FAFP Member?
I enjoy the learnings and meeting and sharing with other industry professionals. FAFP really is a great environment for meeting folks, benchmarking, and learning from other professionals.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Unfortunately, when you are your own boss, you don’t have a lot of spare time, but when my boss gives me a day off I enjoy the outside especially when I am in my boat on the Halifax river and/or playing with my critters.

Thank you Debby!