RD Close-Up: Kim Kockler, RD, LD, CP-FS, Food Safety Manager at Coborn’s Inc.
Please describe your role at Coborn’s.
As the Food Safety Manger at Coborn’s I am responsible for developing food safety policies and procedures for our retail locations which meet or exceed government regulations to ultimately ensure our guests are provided with safe, wholesome food products. I also oversee our food safety auditing program which consists of internal staff as well as third party auditors and assist with implementing food safety programs within our manufacturing/warehouse facilities. Additional responsibilities include handling vendor recall notifications to our retail locations, generating nutrition and ingredient information for products made by our Central Bake Shoppe and in store Bakeries and ensuring we stay current on government food safety and labeling regulations.
What's the story behind your experience in retail and your position with Coborn’s?
I actually started in food retail working as a Bakery Clerk at Byerly’s while going to college. After graduation, we needed to do an eight-week practicum, which I completed at Coborn’s. Once the practicum was finished, I began working for Coborn’s within their R&D department at their food manufacturing facility, DBC Foods. About a year later, I moved into the role of Quality Assurance Manager at the same facility and also began doing nutrition labeling work for not only DBC Foods but the Central Bake Shoppe as well. I was in that role for about 4 years then a position was created for a retail Food Safety Coordinator which was the beginning of my retail food safety adventure!
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
Having started working in retail over 20 years ago and in a very non-traditional role, one of the bigger challenges was developing my food safety and regulatory knowledge as this was not something that was of great focus in college.
What is one thing that you wish you would have known before started working in retail?
A better understanding of the operations/business side of retail.
What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
Networking with other food safety professionals in the retail industry as well as regulatory and academia. Also taking advantage of various continuing education venues: conferences, webinars, on-line courses and reading books/publications.
Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
Early in my role as Food Safety Coordinator, legislation had been passed requiring every food establishment to have at least one Certified Food Manager. At the time, we had approximately 25 locations and we had committed to certifying not only one per store, but all store leadership approximately 10-12 per location. So, I became a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and began teaching certification courses for our store teams. Not only did this accomplish our regulatory requirement, but it gave me the opportunity to meet and engage with our store teams early on which help build rapport with them as the foundation of our retail food safety program was being created.