Shirley Abderrazzaq, Director of Food Safety, Ben E. Keith Foods
"What I learned first and enjoy the most about working with this group is that no one cares where you work. We are just interested in how to be in compliance and keep our products safe for our customers."
Ben E. Keith Foods is a broadline foodservice distributor headquartered in Dallas/Fort Worth and serves eleven states with 8 distribution centers throughout the southwest. The parent company, Ben E. Keith Co., also operates a beverage division that includes 14 DCs.
Shirley Abderrazzaq joined Ben E. Keith Foods as a Healthcare Specialist nearly 20 years ago. She then moved into the National Accounts Department, and in the fall of 2011 became the director of food safety. Before joining Ben E. Keith Foods, she was director of nutrition and food services at All Saints Health System.
Abderrazzaq has served as an industry volunteer on the IFDA Food Safety Leadership Committee since January of 2011 and over the past five years, has worked with other committee members to help shape the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
“Serving on the committee helps me hear what other companies are doing in the area of food safety, and helps me understand the law and what I need to do to protect our customers and Ben E. Keith on food safety issues,” says Abderrazzaq. “Reading one of the FSMA rules is not an easy task. Having it presented for discussion at one of our meetings with IFDA’s food safety legal counsel Miriam Guggenheim and IFDA’s Jon Eisen really gets to the roots of the Rule we are discussing. After leaving a meeting I have a good understanding of what needs to be accomplished and can develop a plan for my company.” That, she says, provides significant ROI for Ben E. Keith Foods.
Abderrazzaq said her first meeting with the committee was an interesting experience. “When I attended my first meeting it was very strange to see all of these competitors sitting and talking together since I started with Ben E. Keith on the sales side. What I learned first and enjoy the most about working with this group is that no one cares where you work. We are just interested in how to be in compliance and keep our products safe for our customers.”
Participation in the committee is also both personally and professionally rewarding in many ways, says Abderrazzaq. During the meetings the group discusses challenges and shares ideas, and she believes she would not be as knowledgeable about the new FSMA Rules without her participation on the committee. “I have built some good friendships and feel comfortable contacting them if I have a question on something pertaining to food safety,” says Abderrazzaq. “They are almost like an extension of your own food safety department.”