Rendering professionals from around the country recently gathered in Nashville, Tennessee, for USPOULTRY’s 2019 Poultry Protein & Fat Seminar. Presentations were offered on a variety of topics from speakers with years of experience in the industry, discussing industry challenges such as safety audit priorities, maintenance training, navigating an intergenerational workforce, foreign material mitigation, customer expectations and more.

Dr. Ansen Pond, director of quality assurance and food safety at Pilgrim’s, gave a Food Safety Modernization Act/Food & Drug Administration (FSMA/FDA) update where he discussed updated regulations, advice on working well with FSMA/FDA and being prepared for inevitable audits and inspections. Pond encouraged attendees to practice an attitude of transparency and cooperation during audits and inspections, noting that how the industry handles these situations today sets the precedent for the industry of tomorrow.

“We have a new generation coming on,” commented Pond. “How we handle these situations, whether it’s FSMA, quality control or simply hot topics in the industry – this new generation is looking at the way we’re handling this, how we communicate between different companies and how we work together.”


Mike Hudlow, executive vice president of planning, engineering and construction for Darling Ingredients Inc., and Brian Aldridge, shift manager at Simmons Feed Ingredients, shared a joint presentation on various organizational methods to improve safety and performance within industry plants. Hudlow added onto the sentiments offered earlier that day by Dr. Pond, saying, “We talked about being prepared for audits. If you have a solid organization system in place, and you’re bringing someone in from outside of the industry, a clean, organized plant is going to severely lessen their concerns going into an inspection.”

Natasha Bangel-Askren, senior food safety specialist for Hill’s Pet Nutrition, discussed customer expectations, emphasizing quality control in each facet of animal health and nutrition.

“When you’re working with animal nutrition and specific prescription diets, it is crucial to make sure that a product is doing what it is intended to do,” explained Bangel-Askren. “In order to deliver on customer expectations, quality is key.”