SQFI Announces 2024 Excellence Awards Recipients

Mar 12, 2024

New Orleans, La. – Today, the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI), a division of FMI – The Food Industry Association, announces EAGLE Certification Group’s Brad Rush and Vital Farm’s Robert Clark as recipients of the 2024 SQF Excellence Awards at the 2024 SQF Unites conference in New Orleans. Rush was recognized with the Excellence in SQF Auditing Award while Clark received the Excellence in SQF Practitioner Leadership Award.

“The SQF community is made up of a highly dedicated group of food safety professionals,” said Gigi Vita, chief food safety assessment officer & senior vice president of SQFI. “Our Excellence Award recipients demonstrate an unparalleled commitment to the SQF program, and we are honored to recognize them for their diligence and passion for advancing a strong food safety culture.”

Excellence in Auditing

The Excellence in SQF Auditing award is presented to a credentialed SQF auditor who demonstrates exceptional Brad Rushperformance and dedication to the SQF program through high-quality audits, professional development activities, leadership and mentorship skills, and promotion of food safety culture.

As lead auditor for EAGLE Certification Group, Rush stands out as a gold standard in auditing within the SQF program, embodying a rare blend of specialized knowledge, unwavering dedication, and genuine passion for fostering industry-wide advancement.

“Brad is passionate about cultivating the skills of emerging auditors and imparting knowledge about food safety and the auditing profession,” said Jessica Osborne, chief program officer at EAGLE Certification Group. “His exceptional expertise naturally positions him as a mentor to newcomers in the field.”

Excellence in Practitioner Leadership

The award for Excellence in SQF Practitioner Leadership is given to an SQF practitioner within an SQF-certified site who Robert Clarkdemonstrates extraordinary leadership and promotion of food safety at their workplace.

Clark is a quality assurance manager who leads a 21-person food safety and quality assurance team at Egg Central Station, Vital Farm's egg washing and packing facility. He spearheads his team and has an enormous sense of pride in delivering a variety of food safety, quality assurance, and continuous improvement projects and training throughout the year to ensure robustness in the SQF program.

“Robert is truly a trailblazer for food safety culture, and it is evident to everybody who has the joy of working with and for him,” said Liang Bennett, senior manager, co-manufacturing quality at Vital Farms. “His ability to engage his audience and get them to understand the reasoning behind why we have to follow food safety protocols and rules is fascinating to watch.”

FMI Foundation Food Safety Auditing Scholars

The recipients of the 2023 FMI Foundation Food Safety Auditing Scholarship were also recognized on stage during the SQFI Awards Ceremony. Congratulations to these scholars for exemplifying excellence in their field and representing the future of food safety auditing.

The SQF Excellence Awards are sponsored by Exemplar Global. For more information about the 2024 SQF Excellence Awards, visit www.sqfi.com/sqf-professionals/sqf-excellence-awards.

For Media: 

Members of the press may contact media@fmi.org for more details about the SQF Excellence Awards and SQF Unites.

About The Safe Quality Food Institute 

The Safe Quality Food (SQF) program is hosted by SQFI – Safe Quality Food Institute, a division of FMI, The Food Industry Association. FMI administers the SQF program, a leading, global food safety and quality certification and management system. While SQFI is most known for its globally benchmarked food safety and quality program, the SQFI team does much more than writing and maintaining this standard. The SQFI mission is to deliver consistent, globally recognized food safety and quality certification programs that are based on sound scientific principles, applied across all industry sectors, and valued by all stakeholders. The SQFI Program is a rigorous and credible food safety and quality management program recognized by retailers, brand owners, and food service providers world-wide. www.SQFI.com

About FMI – The Food Industry Association

As the food industry association, FMI works with and on behalf of the entire industry to advance a safer, healthier and more efficient consumer food supply chain. FMI brings together a wide range of members across the value chain — from retailers that sell to consumers, to producers that supply food and other products, as well as the wide variety of companies providing critical services — to amplify the collective work of the industry. www.FMI.org

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Heather Garlich

Heather Garlich

Senior Vice President, Communications