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Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center

Head Country Inc. earns highest food safety rating

With the help of Praveen Yarramsetti, an Oklahoma State University food science doctoral student, and the university’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center, Head Country recently earned an AA rating on its food safety audit.

By Melanie Jackson, FAPC Communications Graduate Assistant

(Stillwater, Okla. – Oct. 5, 2016) Food safety is a top priority for Head Country Inc., and its recent audit proves it.

With the help of Praveen Yarramsetti, an Oklahoma State University food science doctoral student, and the university’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center, Head Country recently earned an AA rating on its food safety audit. This is the highest possible rating for an announced audit.

“Praveen basically had six weeks to take where we were and get us in shape for the audit,” said Paul Schatte, vice president of Head Country. “When you get to that level of food safety, you have to live it, eat it, breathe it on a constant basis. Your eyes and ears have to be open to every aspect of what a food manufacturer does in order to produce a safe product, and Praveen has that knowledge base.”

Focusing on food safety is an important aspect of operating a successful food business, Schatte said.

“Food safety is important because there is no retirement for food,” Yerramsetti said. “A teacher can retire, but the quality of food or the food safety can never be compromised, it can never retire.”

After earning the highest possible rating for an announced audit, Head Country decided to switch to unannounced audits.

“We were so confident with the rating we got that we went to unannounced audits,” Yerramsetti said. “We take pride in working together as a team.”

Schatte also recognizes the importance of teamwork. He said businesses should work together to learn from each other and prepare for upcoming food safety audits.

Jason Young, FAPC quality management specialist, said smaller companies also need to be aware of new regulations.

“The Food and Drug Administration has come out with the Food Safety Modernization Act,” Young said. “The small companies, for the first time ever, have to meet a regulatory food safety plan.”

Young recommends a small-business owner who needs assistance in meeting food safety requirements and implementing standards for a food safety audit to contact FAPC.

“I encourage people to take hold of food safety,” Schatte said. “It’s an important thing and if you’re a food manufacturer and you want to stay in business, you’re going to have to move to that level of auditing. I would encourage people to take a proactive stance rather than a reactive stance.”

FAPC, a part of OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, helps to discover, develop, and deliver technical and business information that stimulates and supports the growth of value-added food and agricultural products and processing in Oklahoma.

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Oklahoma State University is a modern land-grant university that prepares students for success. OSU has more than 36,000 students across its five-campus system and more than 25,000 on its combined Stillwater and Tulsa campuses, with students from all 50 states and around 120 nations. Established in 1890, Oklahoma State has graduated more than 260,000 students who have been serving Oklahoma and the world for 125 years.