Retail Dietitian Close Up: Janet Flynn, Wegmans
Janet is a Registered Dietitian with Wegmans Food Safety & Quality Assurance. In her 15 years with Wegmans Food Markets she has developed expertise in food allergies and sensitivities, allergen control in food manufacturing, food technology, and food labeling regulations. Prior to coming to Wegmans Janet worked as dietitian in outpatient and clinical settings. She also has a BS in Analytical Chemistry and previous experience in research and pharmaceutical laboratories.
Tell us a little bit about Wegmans. Wegmans Food Markets is a family owned retail grocery chain with 81 stores in 6 states (New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts).
What’s the story on your experience in retail and your position with Wegmans? I am a Senior Quality Assurance Technologist with Food Safety & Quality Assurance, specifically in the Wegmans Brand Quality Assurance unit. Our QA team is responsible for insuring the safety and quality of Wegmans Brand products, including non-food items. We maintain supplier relationships, write specifications, use analytical testing to insure products conform to specification, investigate product issues, and work with manufactures for improvements. Managing long term projects, training new technicians, and working with suppliers on continuous improvement are among my responsibilities. My job is a great blend of dietetics and my previous career working in analytical labs.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry? Probably learning to pick my battles.
What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian? Given what I do, I wish had more experience in food manufacturing.
Has there been anything specific that has held you back? If yes, tell us about this and how you dealt with it. I’ve never had any desire to supervise people. I stepped outside my comfort zone and tried, but it wasn’t a good fit for me. Knowing myself, my strengths, and my skills helps me focus on opportunities that are a good fit for me - and that make a difference to our business and our customers.
In a similar vein, has there been anything specific that has helped you move forward? If yes, tell us about this. Communication skills. The ability to work and communicate with suppliers on a technical level and then translate useable information forward to internal and external customers.
What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry? I get into food manufacturing facilities as often as I can; participate in training offered by groups such as IFT, FARRP, and other food manufacturing associations; as well as utilizing the avenues the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and various DPGs offer.
Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
I am very proud of my role on the cross functional team that created the structure and criteria that support our Gluten Free Wellness Key. We launched the first labels with our Gluten Free label icon in 2001. Our Gluten Free Wellness Key has stood the test of time; and today we are positioned well for the future given the FDA final ruling defining Gluten Free.