ANN ARBOR, Mich. — NSF International, a global public health and safety organization, and the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) announced this week that Kevin Smith, senior advisor for food safety at the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) is the 2021 recipient of the Walter F. Snyder Environmental Health Award. Smith will receive the award July 15 at the virtual 2021 NEHA Annual Education Conference.
"Kevin's lifelong career has been steeped in his service and commitment to the improvement of health for all. His monumental work in creating national food regulatory standards and food safety practices has ensured the health and safety of consumers across the nation," said Kevan Lawlor, president and CEO at NSF International. "Thanks to Kevin's leadership and influence on food safety, his impact joins that of Walter Snyder and former award recipients in that it will endure and improve the quality of life in our society for years to come."
Smith has played a fundamental role in the development, delivery and advancement of national standards that guide regulatory program implementation and set the bar for the design and performance of equipment related to food protection and environmental health, NSF International said. He was instrumental to the development and implementation of the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (VNRFRPS) and the Manufactured Food Regulatory Program Standards (MFRPS), which are used by local and state food safety agencies to develop consistent and sustained regulatory programs of excellence. Meeting the VNRFRPS and MFRPS is now the goal for food safety programs across the country that seek continuous improvement in program delivery. In conjunction with the National Association of County Health Officials (NACCHO), Smith also spearheaded the design and funding of the Retail Program Standards Mentorship Program, which for more10 years has brought together local health departments to use the VNRFRPS.
"Kevin is known across the food safety industry for his collaborative nature, deep experience in standards development and commitment to the broader picture. He always takes the time to thoroughly consider different viewpoints while being thoughtful, flexible and respectful," said David T. Dyjack, executive director and CEO of NEHA. "His abilities to engage others and enact change have been invaluable in building consensus when creating important national standards — many of which are now core to the work of food safety professionals and organizations throughout the nation."
At CFSAN, Smith advanced FDA retail food risk factor studies and was a primary contributor to FDA's "Report on the Occurrence of Foodborne Illness Risk Factors" — a series reports that elevated the objective examination of food safety practices in retail and foodservice operations and set the stage for follow-up studies that have transformed the areas of food safety auditing and inspection for the better, NDF International said.
In his current role at FDA, Smith advises leadership on strategic initiatives and program development, leading nationwide efforts to combat food waste, promote food recovery and protect food from contamination during transport. He has provided counsel to programs and initiatives that seek to reduce food waste while addressing food insecurity and creating jobs, including ReFED's Food Recovery Accelerator and Food Waste Action Network. His efforts to promote safe food donation and the standardization of date labels on packaged foods benefit food donors and food recovery organizations. His collaboration with experts in food safety, environmental engineering, epidemiology, laboratory analysis and public health has helped to create a more integrated food safety system and promote comprehensive food safety reform.
Smith played an active role in FDA's investigation into the incidence of foodborne illnesses linked to commercial food equipment such as deli slicers and soft serve dispensing freezers. He was instrumental in developing changes to consensus American National standards for equipment construction, which proved critical in preventing foodborne illnesses and ensured compliance with the FDA Food Code. As a result, regulators across the country were provided with a clear, uniform path for the difficult challenge of evaluating food equipment for compliance with regulations, NSF International said.
Smith has served in several leadership positions at FDA, including director of the Retail Food Protection Staff, acting director for the Division of Cooperative Programs and consumer safety officer on the Retail Food Protection Team at CFSAN. Prior to joining FDA in 2001, he was a standards development program manager at NSF International, working on standards for a range of products including food equipment, swimming pool equipment and wastewater and stormwater treatment technologies. He got his start in public health as a sanitarian with the Ulster County Department of Health and the New York State Department of Health.