Face-to-Face: Meet Kurt Buckman
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...
Kurt Buckman, VP Quality Assurance Operations and Supply Chain Quality, Pinnacle Foods Corporation.
- How did you get your start in the food industry?
After enrolling at Ohio State University, I began a search for an applied science area of study that could lead to a fulfilling vocation. My search lead me to the Food Technology department where Dr. Wilbur Gould discussed the possibilities of a career in food technology. As a result, when seeking summer employment, I connected with several Ohio food processors and located a job with Libby’s, a northwest Ohio tomato processing facility located in the town of Leipsic. After a positive work experience as a quality control supervisor in the tomato paste and catsup plant, I reported back to Ohio State in the fall and matriculated into the food technology program.
- What do you love about your job?
I love how my work has evolved over the years. Change always brings new opportunities for learning and for applying my knowledge of food science. I especially enjoy working with new product teams to solve the challenges of ensuring food safety and quality within an efficient supply chain to reliably meet consumer’s needs.
- What is the biggest challenge that you face in your job?
One of today’s challenges is finding the best continuous improvement methods to ensure effective food safety and quality program implementation. Today’s external environment and our consumers demand that we effectively manage our workforce and food processing operations to ensure food safety and quality. Senior company executives increasingly look for food safety and quality professionals to meet strategic plans and to serve as advisors regarding reinvestment in food processing facilities to guide continuous improvement. The major challenge confronting me today is to ensure Pinnacle Foods’ suppliers are fully aligned and implementing food safety and quality systems that are equivalent, or more comprehensive, than our internal standards.
- What have you learned or been exposed to in the past 12 months that has helped you in your job?
Every year brings continued development. My long standing career at Birdseye Foods as VP Quality Systems & Regulatory Affairs changed when the company was purchased by Pinnacle Foods Group LLC in December 2009. I joined the Pinnacle Foods management team where I have formed new relationships and learned about their matrix of national brands. Additional networking opportunities arose as I became involved with IFT’s Certified Food Scientist Expert Panel. This experience deepened my understanding of important relationships between various knowledge areas that all food scientists leverage in their work. This clarifies and reinforces important technical practices that must be recognized and supported to ensure successful results. Additionally, it has been a pleasure to work with, and learn from, peers collaborating on industry taskforces to promote readiness for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) implementation. And finally, our SQF implementation has improved our food safety and quality systems implementation and has become an integral part of our continuous improvement initiatives.
- How do you see the food industry evolving over the coming year?
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will influence the food industry in remarkable new ways in the coming years. Food processors, here and around the world, will make their food safety preventative measures transparent under FSMA. It will help the food industry improve its food safety record as each firm reassesses food safety programs relative to new FDA guidance under the Act. The coming year will provide new opportunities for learning and collaboration as we prepare for FSMA by gathering insights from peers, attending industry workshops, and reviewing FDA guidance on FSMA compliance. I have high expectations for an improved food safety record as the entire industry responds to this challenge both now and in the years to come.
- Fun Fact: What’s your favorite food?
Fresh halibut grilled with vegetables, accompanied by a summer salad and a glass of great wine!