Cheshta Sehgal is the Food Safety and Quality Assurance Manager for the Missouri Northern Pecan Growers. Cheshta is skilled in food safety, quality assurance, team building, and time management. She’s also certified in HACCP, (Food Safety Control Requirements) FSMA, (Food Safety Modernization), and PCQI. (Preventative Control)
Her career started with the study of food science at Case State. Before she took her current position, there was only one employee that was the Plant Manager while also managing food safety. The company was eager to invest in someone that had the right background and found just that.
Cheshta filled the new position that handles health inspectors, and the government and focuses on food safety specifically. Making sure to stay current with the ever-changing rules, policies, and regulations so the Missouri Northern Pecan Growers can stay ahead of it.
The HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) and The FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act)
HACCP compliance became the main focus of hazard analysis for Missouri Northern Pecan Growers and having a HACCP plan was a top priority. But since 2016, the Food Safety Modernization Act has taken up much more of our time and attention. It was 2011 when it was passed into law and companies were required to implement it. This ultimately shifted the entire industry beginning with recalls.
Today, the law has encompassed each step of the way for our pecan production.
Recently, there has also been a shift in the nutrition panel. Packages were previously accepted if they only labeled calories. But now, they require different labeling things like added sugars. The Missouri Northern Pecan Growers needs to post any additional sources of where that product comes from. Announcing ‘Product of USA’ is now a requirement on the label.
Another change to labels are how calories are listed. They must be bolded so consumers can actually see, “Oh, I’m going to be consuming this many calories. So I better be careful.” Cheshta Sehgal believes that this trend has been a positive one. Customers have started looking at the labels with more consideration.
Transparency of how the bulk pecans are processed is also required. For a small company, obviously, it can be hard to implement these changes. Thankfully, the FDA has provided most small companies with a two-year extension to correct the labels. The Good Housekeeping Institute was a company that also ensured food quality for a long time dating back to the 1800’s.
Safe Product Transportation Laws
A Food Safety and Quality Assurance Manager also abide by a law recently passed about the safe transportation of food products. Specifically, make sure your truck and trailer are free of odor and pests. The temperature must be controlled inside, especially during summer. Laws like this have been implemented in blueberry farming to maintain fresh quality product.
Missouri Northern Pecan Growers were already doing those things, so it’s not an issue for them under current laws. The last rule that passed was on Food Defense. Basically, every company needs to have a food defense plan in order to protect its product from unintentional contamination. Salmonella and Listeria are examples of unintentional contamination that can unfortunately occur.
Where Can We Find You?
Some tradeshows I will be attending this year are The Natural Products Expo West and The Natural Products Expo East. The entire company will go to the Missouri Grocers MGA event happening in July. Missouri Northern Pecan Growers are also planning on going to the PMA (Produce Marketing Association). Which is a fresh summit in Florida where our company will be exhibiting as well.