Face-to-Face: Meet Peter Snyder
Ever wonder if anyone else is facing the same professional challenges as you? Or just looking to connect with some new people in your field? In IFT's Face-to-Face series, we will be introducing you to a different IFT member every month with a fun, insightful Q&A session.
This month meet...
O. Peter Snyder, Jr., President, Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management
- How did you get your start in the food industry?
To make some extra money when I was 15 years old, I became a cook/food worker in a cafeteria in Denver, Colo. When it came time to go to college, I ended up getting my Bachelor's Degree in Hotel Restaurant Management, thinking that I would be a restaurant foodservice manager. Then, I joined the Army as an officer, and the Army decided to send me to M.I.T. to get a Master's Degree in Food Science and Nutrition and then, to the University of Massachusetts to get a Ph.D. in Food Science and Technology, so that I could be on the team that developed rations for the Army in the field, field kitchens, as well as radiated food products.
- What do you love about your job?
As a consultant to the retail food industry, it is very satisfying to help managers and operators implement HACCP and apply HACCP technology. When a retail operator understands the food safety problem and becomes committed to controlling the biological, chemical, and physical hazards in the food coming from the farm in order to protect customers' health, that is my reward. It is a very gratifying experience to observe the operator who does not see quality control as merely a cost, but who looks at it as a responsibility and obligation to customers in terms of providing consistent, safe products.
- What is the biggest challenge that you face in your job?
There are many education programs for foodservice managers, but none of them teaches managers to "walk" their facilities to observe the critical food safety control points (e.g., hand washing, cleaning raw food contact surfaces, cooking ground meat to 155ºF for 15 seconds for pasteurization) and to implement this information. The likely reason is that foodborne illness is a rare event, when one considers 300,000,000 people eating three meals a day, and only a small number are made ill on a given day. So, the average operator never sees a foodborne illness incident. They may read about these incidents in the newspapers or hear about them on the news, but they happened to someone else. The biggest challenge, then, is to educate managers to understand the significance of the food safety problem and then have them to communicate this to their food workers, who, in turn, become committed to following the hazard control rules at all times.
- What have you learned or been exposed to in the past 12 months that has helped you in your job?
Science is wonderful, but it is ordinary human beings who carry out the food safety controls. So, I have become increasingly focused on behavioral change and counseling managers to give positive reinforcement to their well-trained employees so that their food safety rules become habits in their daily behavior. Positive reinforcement of the people who carry out the food handling tasks is what makes food safety happen.
- How do you see the food industry evolving over the coming year?
In my consulting, I also work with food processors. The government concern about the safety of the food coming from land and water farms will become more intense, and the world of quality control will be much more important than it has been in the past, when we worried primarily about quality. Operators of farms, processors, and restaurants will be faced with high-dollar recalls if they do not control their processes and prevent problems from happening. I believe that there will be a decided focus on critical control points and their control. If operators do not pay attention to this, there will be fines and recalls that will be very expensive. Quality control and fast testing of manufactured product will be an important part of any manufacturing facility, to include restaurants.
- Fun Fact: What’s your favorite food?
Peanut butter on a cracker with ketchup on top!
If you are an IFT member and wish to be profiled, please contact Kelly Hensel at email@example.com or 312-604-0211.