Face-to-Face: Meet Nicholas Tarleton November 2017

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.

Nicholas TarletonThis month meet...

Nicholas Tarleton, associate R&D scientist, The Kraft Heinz Company

  1. How did you get your start in the food industry?
    I participated in the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences' Research Apprentice Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign during my sophomore year of high school. I learned how to make Quaker Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bars healthier and returned during my junior year of high school to conduct a seven-week research study on childhood obesity and genetics. In order to graduate from high school, I went to school for four days of the week and on the 5th day, I was out in the field conducting research on food deserts and introducing farmers markets to those communities.

  2. What do you love about your job?
    There is always something new every day and I enjoy helping customers use our products in their final products. Customers want to learn about our products in addition to sharing important information revolving around new NLEA/NLR guidelines, allergen declarations, FSMA, HACCP, GFSI scheme auditing, FDA bio-terrorism, regulatory references, and so much more. I also enjoy the company culture; I've never worked in a setting where there are great initiatives to welcome new employees to the company and the CEO/leadership team members casually walking through greeting everyone. It makes me feel valued as a stakeholder in the company.

  3. What is the biggest challenge that you face in your job?
    The biggest challenge I face in my job is the ever-changing FSMA and NLR guidelines. Customers can be very demanding when it comes to requesting updated nutrition profiles with added sugars and vitamin D; however, this information is not available from our suppliers quite yet. Customers also are demanding when it comes to ensuring the products we manufacture for them are safe and have not been tampered with, which leads us to reassess HACCP plans, quality, and food safety programs, drafting updated statements, and sometimes waiting for plant facilities to work on their nonconformities. Though there are many changes occurring in the industry, patience is a virtue and continuously communicating with the customer is very important ... no matter how many times they follow up wanting the information.

  4. What have you learned or been exposed to in the past 12 months that has helped you in your job?
    I have learned a great deal about the regulatory industry and how the FDA is working to ensure food is safe from raw material, during transportation, to finished goods. Prior to my current job, I was a regulatory specialist and created Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) around supplier approval programs, foreign supplier verification programs, regulatory references, NAFTA agreements, and much more. Transitioning from one company to the next has allowed me to bridge my regulatory experience into a technical service branch of the industry. Going from working in a small manufacturing facility directly in the food safety and quality department to now working in a large corporate setting has allowed me to introduce new ways of being efficient and act as an owner.

  5. How do you see the food industry evolving over the coming year?
    I see the industry taking many measures to ensure food and beverage products are safe for end consumers (their customers). From a regulatory perspective, there are many more measures that could be put in place to ensure food is not being tampered with, including creating smarter tamper-evident packaging. Technology will also further enhance the food industry by increasing the number of products that can be made in a short amount of time to keep up with the demand of feeding the world when it comes to manufacturing.

  6. Fun Fact: What’s your favorite food?
    My favorite food is a pulled pork sandwich with baked Kraft Deluxe Macaroni & Cheese.

If you are an IFT member and wish to be profiled, please contact Kelly Hensel at khensel@ift.org or 312-604-0211.