Leading and Sharing Food Safety Knowledge

By: 
Kristie Denbrock

Bridget Sweet is not only preparing to graduate from the Online Master of Science in Food Safety program in May, she is also helping to prepare the State of Rhode Island with a strategic plan for all food systems. Bridget is actively involved with the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) in several capacities and with the RIDOH Center for Food Protection Lean Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to transform the state’s food inspection process to further promote sustainable safe practices in the food industry.

Bridget Sweet PhotoAs Executive Director of Food Safety at Johnson & Wales University (JWU), Bridget began her MSU career in food safety saying, “Being responsible for food safety in a large culinary school is a challenge. I think that often times regulatory and industry are speaking different languages,” and she wants her students at the College of Culinary Arts (CCA) to graduate, “as culinarians and leaders of food safety.”

“To educate all students who attend CCA on the importance of and the understanding of proactive food safety” is a goal of hers. She said taking the blended course (in-person and online), Creating A Food Safety Culture Executive Education, was “an exceptional opportunity”.  “The networking, both with my online classmates and the on-campus Executive Education participants, was incredible, and the workshop components allowed an insight to food safety challenges that occur in various food safety careers”.  “Having the opportunity to learn from Frank Yiannas, (Vice President of Food Safety, Walmart) and guest speaker David Theno was a highlight, as well as the guest lecture from Bill Marler in a small format, with plenty of opportunity for questions, best practices and sharing of ideas.  As important were the evening networking sessions where classmates and executive education participants were allowed to interact.  While I have always loved food safety, this class really heightened my excitement and my passion for food safety.  I truly encourage all current and future Food Safety Spartans to look into this experience.” 

Being a former regulator who was not interested in cooking, Bridget found herself lacking in knowledge regarding equipment or indicators of special processes favored by chefs. She now feels JWU is posed to be an interpreter of both regulatory and industry languages. The goal for the RIDOH Center for Food Protection and Lean Initiative is to transform the State’s food inspection process to further promote sustainable safe practices in the food industry.  “This is a great experience for me to build our collaboration and my knowledge from the MSU MS in Food Safety. My regulatory experience and my industry experience allow me to make significant suggestions and contributions to this initiative”.

As for the MS in Food Safety program at MSU, Bridget said, “Being in an online format, I truly wasn’t sure what to expect. However, the delivery format and the discussion posting exceeded my expectations. I have been able to cultivate and forge lasting friendships from classmates all across the country, in varying roles of food safety.”