Face-to-Face: Meet Bruce Ferree
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 new 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...
Bruce Ferree, Director of Quality, California Natural Products.
- How did you get your start in the food industry?
I had a good major professor in college (Food Technology - Colorado State University) and he arranged for an interview as I was graduating. The interview was with one of his previous grad students. Knowing that I was a hippie leftover, I'm sure I didn't look like the right person to hire but there must have been good words passed from professor to employer so I got the job. I became Quality Manager and have been in quality and food safety management since then. That was the poultry industry. Since then, I've been in meats, dairy, canning, sugars, and food safety consulting.
- What do you love about your job?
Quality management is one of those jobs in manufacturing where you don't sit in an isolation booth all day. You actually get to work and know every area of the operation—production, warehousing, purchasing, accounting, laboratory, human resources, engineering, and product development. The job of quality management is unique every day and I get to work with a variety of people every day. That's what I love about my job.
- What is the biggest challenge that you face in your job?
Two challenges are equal. 1. Keeping up with regulatory changes and expectations. (I work in a plant that is FDA, USDA, Juice HACCP, bottled water, winery, dairy, and organic inspected—there's a lot to keep up with.) 2. Personnel skills: choosing the right words to motivate employees and to satisfy regulators and auditors is a challenge no matter what line of work you're in.
- What have you learned or been exposed to in the past 12 months that has helped you in your job?
Mostly 'failure.' Whether personal failure, product failure, operational failure, or even a personal health issue, I think we learn from these events how to be better, more understanding, etc. But mostly we learn how to improve and to avoid issues in the future.
- How do you see the food industry evolving over the coming year?
The food industry has changed so much since I joined it but the evolution I see is that food now cures you or kills you. I remember when food just had to taste good and it nourished you. Now you have to eat this because it has antioxidants, or eat that because it prevents cancer. My dream for the evolution of the food industry would be to stop the niche marketing of items and to really solve the issue or food security—feeding everyone on the planet adequately.
- Fun Fact: What’s your favorite food?
I like ice cream with fresh berries from our garden best and wish I could survive on just that.