NSF International To Help Retailers Build A Culture of Food Safety

Appoints retail food safety expert, Gina Nicholson, to lead the program.

NSF International, an independent global organization with nearly 70 years of food safety expertise, has appointed Gina Nicholson to global director of retail accounts.

With over 23 years of retail food safety experience, Nicholson will focus on utilizing new technology and science-based approaches developed by NSF International to create supply chain food safety management systems and training programs that can be scaled to fit a global retailer’s operations worldwide. This includes overseeing NSF’s team of retail food safety experts that have served as a trusted resource for consulting and technical services for major global retail brands such as Sodexo, HMSHost, T.G.I. Friday’s and Jack in the Box.

“New developments in technology and increased cooperation among government and the food industry have led to improvements in addressing foodborne illness outbreaks. However, prevention through training and a strong farm to fork food safety program must remain the focus of retailers as the globalization of the food supply chain poses new challenges. Food safety and quality is equal to brand protection and no third-party organization understands this better than NSF International. Food safety is what we do,” said Nicholson. “NSF has cultivated a team of leading scientists and regulatory experts that understand the science behind food safety and quality and use innovative approaches—to tailor food safety programs for retailers all over the world.”

As an owner and operator of her own organic bakery, to Manager of Public Health Promotions and a Registered Sanitarian at the Columbus Public Health Department, to her role as Senior Manager of Food Safety & Quality at The Kroger Co., Nicholson has spread her knowledge and innovative approach of food safety to organizations small and large.

Nicholson’s skill in food safety education, training and systems development has already helped other national retailer’s to build ambitious perishable food process improvement projects focused on food safety and quality, and successfully establish a food safety culture that now permeates these organizations.

“The key is to have senior management’s buy-in with every aspect of the retail food enterprise, including associates at retail stores, manufacturing plants and distribution centers all over the world—food safety should be top of mind for everyone. It was this philosophy that lead the International Association for Food Protection to select Kroger as the 2012 Black Pearl Award recipient and I was honored have been part of this team,” said Nicholson. “In my new role at NSF, I plan to apply this experience and the technical expertise of NSF’s retail food safety team, which average 20 years of experience, to help other organizations large and small build a culture of food safety.”

In 2012, NSF International launched an innovative behavior-based food safety training model that has caught the attention of many leading retailers. In partnership with Cognisco, a specialist in assessing and developing workforce competence, NSF International combined leading research on human behavior and psychology with their expertise in food safety to design an intelligent behavior-based food safety assessment and targeted intervention model that helps companies build a culture of food safety. This is crucial as an initial assessment of nearly 10,000 trained food handlers revealed that 41% of these workers still demonstrate a dangerous gap between their knowledge of food safety handling practices and their actual application of these principles in the workplace.

“As the last stop along the food supply chain, retailers face many unique challenges. Unlike a food processing or manufacturing setting, it takes people to produce food in the retail industry. Applying the science-based research and experience of world-renown psychologists and NSF’s food safety experts, the global retail program will work with companies to motivate and train their associates to develop and reinforce behaviors and systems that protect and improve food safety across all locations worldwide,” said Nicholson.

Nicholson has managed all aspects of retail food safety programs and served as the Manager of Health Promotion for the Columbus Public Health Department where she implemented several nationally awarded programs, such as the NACCHO Model Practice for the Food Safety Tool Box. These efforts led to the Columbus Public Health Department receiving the Samuel J. Crumbine Award in 2009 for having the best food protection program in the nation.

In addition to her new role at NSF, Nicholson is also a very active member of several food safety committees including the The Ohio State University Environmental Health Sciences Advisory Board, as well as several committees with the Conference for Food Protection, the International Association for Food Protection and the Food Safety Summit.

Nicholson has presented at several state and national conferences on topics such as: Branding Your Food Safety Message; Selling Food Safety from the Top Down; Creating a Food Safety Culture within the Real World of Retail Foods; 5 Terrific Training Tools; Consumer Education—It takes a partnership; Be Food Safe Participation—from a National Supermarket’s perspective; A Deep Dive into Cold Chain Management; and Translating HACCP to Lean Six Sigma‑How to speak the language of the business to build a robust Food Safety program.

Nicholson attended Ohio-based Ashland University where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Human Biology. She is also a Registered Sanitarian.





  1. Its fantastic to see some experts helping out the food safety training programmes.

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