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Career Story: Quality Control Consultant And Food Plant Inspector

Quality Control Consultant And Food Plant Inspector

Job Title: Food Consultant

Type of Company: I provide food safety and quality control assistance to food manufacturing plants including training of management and employees in good manufacturing practices and monitoring of key process steps to ensure product safety.

Education: AS, Science

Previous Experience: I worked as a lab tech in a milk plant, as a New York inspector for Agriculture & Markets, division of Milk Control, as quality control manager for Hood Dairies and a quality control manager for a chicken processing plant.

Job Tasks: Most of my clients are small meat processing facilities that are under USDA inspection. I write Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Point manuals to identify critical control points (or CCP's), steps in the production process that need monitoring to assure compliance to USDA regulations and insure product safety during processing while limiting contamination and the growth of microbial pathogens. I also write Standard Sanitary Operating Procedures (SSOPs). These are written instructions for proper cleaning of both the facility and all equipment used during production and include the frequencies of cleaning (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) I create documents to monitor the control points and CCP's during production, vital paperwork that shows that the critical limits were not exceeded and the product is safe to consume. I also perform sanitary audits (visual inspections) of the facility both before and during production to check for structural defects, equipment cleanliness, and sanitary practices. I train employees on good manufacturing practices (GMP's); how and when to wash their hands, proper handling of product to prevent contamination, and proper clothing for employees working directly with food production. I provide yearly reassessments of the HACCP and SSOP plans as required by USDA. The reassessments include updating to meet any changes in the regulations and changes in the production process.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the work is helping the food industry provide high quality, safe products for the consumer to eat. I am my own boss and for the most part I can pick my own hours and have the freedom to plan my work schedule around my children and family's schedule. Being an independent consultant means that I can make recommendations and still get paid, but do not have the burden of insuring that a client complies with my recommendations. I make great money and travel around much of New England visiting different processing facilities.

The worst part is knowing that some processors do not listen to my recommendations and continue using unsanitary practices.

Job Tips: You definitely have to be self-motivated and have good people skills for this job. This job requires you to take classes to keep updated on changes to the USDA regulations. Although many of my clients have come to me through referrals, networking and cold calling prospective clients is very helpful. So there's an element of selling to the job that may not suit everyone.

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