Though we interview a lot of product developers on the show, I’m glad I have a friend in food safety. Tiffany Lau does food safety audits for retail at the NSF and it’s a whole different ball game compared to product development.
Food safety and regulatory are huge areas in the food industry! It’s one of those careers where you will not only always have a job, but if you’re good at it, it can make you an industry expert and you might be able to charge $200 a phone call if you know your stuff.
Here are some things I distilled from my talk with Tiffany on why food safety is for you.
You like Black and White Decisions
The great thing about food safety is something has the potential to kill you or it won’t. It is much easier to make a decision or educate someone because the facts are straight. This is different from a product developer’s perspective where we argue which is better, pea protein or cricket protein.
Food Safety has years of proof that tells you what is good and what is bad. The hard part is pretty much memorizing it all. You have a checklist and a routine in which you can easily follow, so that helps.
If you like finding objective problems and are detail oriented, food safety is for you. However, it’s not for me as I need to have a creative outlet to be satisfied with my work. People are different.
You like Educating People
Some people just don’t know what’s good or what’s bad and what seems like common sense to a microbiologist, might not make sense for a manager at a retail Safeway store. Tiffany’s job is to teach and educate people on what’s safe and what’s not safe in terms of food.
Some people like teaching, some people do not. You see this in academia quite often. If you do indeed like teaching people, food safety and auditing might be for you. Heck, it probably pays more than being a teacher too.
Being a good educator is a very important life skill, but it’s not for everyone. It requires a lot of sympathy, and empathy and a lot of emotional intelligence. Most people who like to be educators love the feeling of improving someone’s value, so if you have a cut throat, impatient, personality, maybe this isn’t for you. But the sales and finance department might be!
You like Building Relationships
Tiffany’s my age, about 24 or something and she is technically an authority figure when she walks into her client’s office. This makes people put up their arms and have doubts unless Tiffany can prove herself. It takes trust and communication for her clients to fully trust her but she says it is very rewarding.
We compare this type of job to somewhat of a sales manager. For one, you can work at a home office, but even more so, the relationships you form are very similar. You build relationships in both fields by showcasing your knowledge and being patient. What’s a bit more rewarding about food safety is that you’re not going to feel miserable not making a sale.
So to wrap it up, the food industry is pretty darn big, and it’s not only filled with product developers. In fact, the most important part of our industry I would say is the food safety component we have in the food industry. The next time you walk into any place that has food, whether it’s a supermarket, restaurant, or factory, appreciate that a food safety auditor has probably walked around looking at the ceiling.
Also, you get to work at home. If you’re into that.