The National Restaurant Association recently presented the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Leader in Food Safety and the 2022 Outstanding Leader in Food Safety during the Association’s Food Safety and Quality Assurance (FSQA) Expert Exchange event, Sept. 19-21.

Food safety is a vital focus of the foodservice industry and depends on the knowledge and dedication of leaders at every level. The Outstanding Food Safety Awards, sponsored by Ecolab, were created to recognize the individuals whose careers reflect consumer safety across the industry. This year, Dr. Al Baroudi, MS, Ph.D., CFS, vice president of Food Safety and Quality Assurance for The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated, and Christina Serino, senior director for Quality Assurance and Food Safety at P.F. Chang’s, were selected for recognition.

The first Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Leader in Food Safety was presented to Baroudi, in recognition of his contributions to the food safety industry. Over the course of his career, he has been a leader in operational food safety innovation, with a dedication to industry-wide mentorship and workforce development and has volunteered his thought leadership in organizations that define food safety across industry, academia, and government.

Baroudi is founder and president of the Food Safety Institute International (FSI), has held multiple food safety leadership positions in the foodservice industry and has lectured around the globe. Baroudi regularly trains food safety auditors and inspectors for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and many state and local health agencies.

“I am extremely honored and thankful for the recognition in receiving this prestigious award that represents a remarkable milestone in my lifelong career in food safety. Preventing any and every foodborne illness has been my goal throughout my career, and I am truly humbled by this recognition,” said Baroudi. “I have been very fortunate to work with government agencies, academia, and several companies throughout my career. I would like to thank The Cheesecake Factory, for not only recognizing the value of food safety culture, but for giving me the opportunity to create and lead our robust program. When dealing with food, remember, food safety is non-negotiable.”

Serino was selected the 2022 Outstanding Leader in Food Safety. The award was presented in recognition of her dedication to food safety through personal and professional accomplishments including improving food safety processes, introducing innovations to manage food supply systems and foodservice operations, and mentoring other foodservice professionals.

Serino has more than a decade of experience in food safety and quality assurance, including positions in private industry and in regulatory roles. At P.F. Chang’s, she oversees food safety, quality, regulatory compliance, and environmental, social and governance issues. She is essential to supporting the company’s restaurants in ensuring guests have a safe and memorable dining experience.

“This is recognition of the hard work and dedication by food safety professionals across the industry,” Serino said. “We know food safety is non-negotiable and understand the unique responsibility we carry. At P.F. Chang’s we think about it as a harvest to plate continuum – factoring in everything from supply chains to menu listings. It’s top of mind so all our guests, regardless of dietary needs or health profiles, can enjoy a meal knowing the food they’re eating is safe. I want to thank all my colleagues at P.F. Chang’s and our incredible leadership team for all their support of the FSQA team. I’m humbled by the recognition and thank the association for bringing awareness to this important role with this award.”

“Food safety is essential for both keeping our public protected and for creating a vibrant, dynamic, and profitable foodservice industry. Professionals like Christina and Dr. Al are leading the way in our restaurant business through their dedicated service to clean, healthy food day in and day out,” said Jeffrey Clark, Expert Exchange director for the Association. “With these awards, we have the opportunity to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and integrity these individuals provide to protect our industry and the customers who trust us to serve them safe, delicious food every day.”

A panel of six food safety professionals, five from the National Restaurant Association FSQA Expert Exchange Steering committee and one from Ecolab, evaluated the award nominations to select the honoree.

Find more information about the Food Safety and Quality Assurance Expert Exchange here.

Source: National Restaurant Association