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This panel will address some key ideas, concepts and experiences of successful industry and regulatory collaboration. Collaboration through education, cooperation and coordination between parties is necessary to promote and protect public health in the retail food environment. The panel members will give examples of how they have developed open lines of communication, resulting in transparency and improved levels of trust.  Recognition and respect for each other’s roles helps to build strong relationships over time, improving our ability to promote and protect public health.

Moderated by Dr. Jay Ellingson, Kwik Trip

Dr. Ellingson serves as Senior Director of Food Regulations and Science Operations for Kwik Trip, Inc. in La Crosse, Wisconsin, focusing on the new government regulatory initiatives and heading up the sciences behind Kwik Trip’s Food Protection Systems.  From 2006-to-2016 he served as the Corporate Director of Food Safety/Quality Assurance for Kwik Trip.  Kwik Trip is a vertically integrated dairy, beverage and food production company which owns and operates over 590+ Retail food outlets throughout Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.  Kwik Trip also owns and operates its own distribution and transportation centers. Dr. Ellingson earned a BS degree in Biology and Sociology from Viterbo University, La Crosse, WI in 1987.  In 1995, he received his Ph.D. in Molecular Microbiology from Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI.  He then served as a postdoctoral fellow and staff molecular microbiologist with the USDA, Agriculture Research Service, National Animal Disease Center and USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Center for Veterinary Biologics, respectively, Ames, Iowa. From 1999-2006, Dr. Ellingson served as the Director of Marshfield Clinic Laboratories – Food Safety Services, Marshfield, WI.  During this time, he patented a molecular diagnostic method for the detection of E. coli 0157:H7.  In 2004, Marshfield Clinic also appointed Dr. Ellingson as the Chief Scientific Officer for the Marshfield Food Safety, LLC, a network of on-site process control Food Safety Testing Laboratories.  He serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and on several Food Protection Advisory Boards.

Lenny Russo, Chef

Chef Russo has worked professionally in the food service industry for 40 years. He is a six time James Beard Award Finalist for Best Chef Midwest. As chef and owner of Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market, he created and retailed value added products including canned and fermented fruits and vegetables as well as cured and smoked meats along with a vast array of produce, fresh meats and fish, stocks and soups, eggs, dairy, rendered animal fats and a full line of baked goods and frozen desserts in addition to operating his full service restaurant and banquet facilities. He is a current member of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. He has sat on the Organic Advisory task to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture as well as the Saint Paul-Ramsey County Health & Nutrition Commission where he co-chaired the Food Literacy Task Force. His cookbook “Heartland: Farm Forward Dishes from the Great Midwest” was published in 2015. He is a current member of the US State Department American Chef Corps, and he represented Minnesota at Expo Milan 2015 where he presented the culture of our indigenous peoples through food. He is currently working as an independent consultant to the food and beverage industry

Nick Koreen, Minneapolis Health Dept.

Food became Nick’s passion at a young age.  After spending 8 years working every hourly position within restaurants Nick spent the next 6 years managing restaurants focusing his efforts on improving the quality assurance standards within his kitchens in a region that spanned 8 stores.  After learning that he was about to become a father he went back to school. Since graduating Nick has split time between the State of Minnesota and the City of Minneapolis inspecting, educating, and consulting business owners and chefs on how to improve their food safety.

Marty Putz, Kwik Trip

Marty serves as Director of Food Safety and Quality Assurance for Kwik Trip, Inc. in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  The Food Safety & Quality Assurance department is responsible for protecting public health through its Recall and Withdrawal Process and ensuring brand protection utilizing the Vendor Approval Process, Food Supply Chain Assessments, and a variety of other programs to protect our brand throughout the Kwik Trip, Inc. system.  We strive to continuously improve our food safety programs throughout our food supply chain and our retail stores. Marty received a Master of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 1994.  In 2015 Marty completed the Certified Comprehensive Food Safety through NEHA.  He enjoys running, boating, traveling, and spending time with his wife Lisa and their three children, Leah, Nick and Manny.  They reside in Brice Prairie, WI.

Tameka Carr, Target

Tameka Carr is the Director of Retail Food Safety at Target Corporation. She provides oversight and sets the strategic direction for a team of technical experts responsible for food safety, quality and regulatory affairs in more than 1800 retail stores across the country.   Tameka earned a Bachelor’s degree in Food Science with an emphasis in International Studies from Purdue University and a Masters of Business Administration with a Project Management specialization from Northern Kentucky University. In her 19 years of experience in the food and beverage industry she has held roles in manufacturing, merchandising, store operations, food safety, quality assurance, packaging and private label product development.  Some of the private label items she developed were featured on “Good Morning America” and her favorite product ranked #1 in Consumer Reports.   Tameka, currently serves as a Board Member for AIBI-CS, 3M Food Safety Executive Advisory Panel, FMI Food Protection Committee Member and Conference Food Protection Program Committee Member. As a certified chef, she spends much of her free time trying new cuisines with her husband and four children.