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Why I’m passionate about food safety – and how my journey took me from Africa to Kellogg

My interest in food science and safety started when I went to a boarding school in Nigeria, where I grew up. But like many other people, it wasn’t a direct path from my early interest to a career.

Being so young at the time, there’s so much I didn’t understand about the world. But one thing I knew was my classmates sometimes got sick from food they ate. One of my friends got sick from what I now know was food poisoning, and it just boggled my mind.

I started my university education in Nigeria. My dad was a chemistry professor at the University of Botswana, and I eventually transferred there to finish my bachelor’s degree. The initial plan was to be a doctor. I was pursuing a biochemistry major at the university, then I took a food microbiology class in my senior year.


It was exactly what I wanted.

I didn’t know there was a degree called food science. I immediately started Googling food, science, and microbiology.

My eyes were opened to a new world, and I was so excited. I told my dad, and he was like, “Okay, what’s that?” Even though he wasn’t sure what I meant, he was very supportive. So, I investigated universities that offered food science. He told me I should consider the United States, because he did some of his graduate school in the U.S.

The University of Georgia and University of Guelph were the first to offer me admission for a food science master’s degree. Georgia was warmer, so that was an easy decision. Plus, there were more scholarship opportunities. It was a great experience. Not just the academics, of course! I learned about football, too. I knew nothing about American football before UGA. I now follow NCAA football religiously in the fall. Go Dawgs!

I completed my degree at Georgia, then went to work for MillerCoors at one of their facilities in North Carolina. I wanted to take on greater responsibility, so I started to research positions that could help advance my career. Trouble was, many of them required 5-10 years of experience or a PhD.

So, I returned to Athens because Georgia offered me admission to their PhD program with practically a full scholarship. I studied at the Center for Food Safety, Griffin Campus. This really set me up well for my career. I had incredible professors, including some of the top food safety experts in the world. It was through all of those interactions and conversations that I found about opportunities at Kellogg, where I’ve been able to make a real impact nurturing a culture of food safety across all levels of the organization.

At Kellogg, we believe everyone owns food safety every day – not only those of us with food safety in our titles and not only on World Food Safety Day, which is observed every year on June 7, but every day.

One big misconception about food

There is a lot of sensationalism around the term “processed” food. One of the big things I took away from my graduate school education is the understanding of food processing. In fact, my favorite class was my “Food Processing” class. It may have had a thing or two to do with the brilliant professor I had.

Processing is branded as negative, but we need to start seeing it from the perspective of food safety and other benefits. Food processing is why we have enough food to eat in parts of the world – because the preservation techniques allow us to keep food safe for a long time. The number of people facing food insecurity globally continues to increase.

In my global travels, I’ve had the opportunity to see the impact of lack of food processing and preservation – including food waste and food insecurity. Making sure food is shelf-stable, easy to transport and safe is how we can help feed the growing population. So, when people assume processed food is inherently bad, in my opinion, it’s a misconception.

I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to pursue my passion. If someone were to ask me what my career has been like at Kellogg, I’d say it’s been filled with learning and growth. I truly look forward to every day because I get to do what I love.

It never feels like work.

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