Panel: Food Safety, Quality, and Compliance for Retailers

  • Discussing how evolving consumer and regulatory expectations on a global level are shaping the way we do business
  • What are some of the unique aspects and challenges retailers face when operating their supply chains?
  • How should we best monitor and verify that our supply chains are visible, traceable, and compliant?
  • Collaborating with suppliers on written Preventive Controls safety plans
  • Creating a feedback system based on metrics to monitor supply chain health and performance
  • Understanding In-store food safety must-do’s to control and eradicate food borne pathogens
  • Walking through recall plans and supply chain mobilization: How are these prepared ahead of time to be effective and efficient when needed?


Spir Marinakis
VP of Food Safety, Quality Assurance, Technical Services & Sanitation
Maple Leaf Foods

Spir is currently serving as Vice President, Food Safety, Quality and Technical Services for processed meats, further processed poultry, fresh poultry, fresh pork at Maple Leaf Foods (MLF).  As overall leader of this function Spir is accountable for the strategic direction to deliver on MLF’s Food Safety & Quality (FS&Q) strategy, Food Safety Promise, Quality Vision, day-to-day operations of the FS&Q Management Systems and Microbiology and Chemistry labs that service all MLF’s plants.

Spir began her professional career at Unilever Canada, one of the world’s largest CPG company. She progressed through various roles that included food scientist, sales representative, brand manager, innovation manager, R&D/QA manager, Canada and customer activation manager, North America. During this time, Spir achieved two prestigious Global Innovation Awards for innovative concepts and successful execution. Throughout this time her efforts on the commercial side of the business enhanced her appreciation of the importance of innovation, and customer-centric focus.

In 2004, Spir joined Maple Leaf Foods as Director FS&Q for the poultry division. During this time, Spir was awarded the President’s Award. In 2007, she moved into Six Sigma. During her tenure in Six Sigma, she was responsible for critical projects within marketing and food safety. In 2013, Spir moved into the Director, FS&Q systems role where she  took over leadership and execution of  the company’s quality strategy, performance metrics, FS&Q Pillar of the Operational Excellence System, complaint management, and control of the FS&Q Management System.


Nicole Wakeham
Head of Operations Food Safety NA

Nicole Wakeham has 20 years of experience in food safety spanning from regulatory enforcement to food manufacturing to overseeing food safety for multi-unit national chain restaurants and grocery stores. At Amazon, Nicole leads the North America Operations Food Safety & Compliance Team, where she has responsibility for the programs and processes that support their food businesses such as Amazon Fresh and Amazon Go. Nicole is a graduate of Western Kentucky University and holds a Bachelors in Biology, Chemistry, and Spanish and a Masters in Environmental Public Health. Nicole holds CP-FS and REHS certifications through NEHA. Nicole resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her supportive husband, sassy three-year-old daughter, and loving pitbull.

Robin Forgey
Director, Food Safety and Quality Assurance
Costco Wholesale

Robin Forgey is the Director of Food Safety and Quality Assurance for Costco Wholesale Corporation.  Costco Wholesale Corporation operates membership warehouses world-wide, that offer a selection of branded and private label products in a range of merchandise categories.

Costco Wholesale is a global leader when it comes to food safety and all suppliers must meet their strict compliance requirements.  Costco’s food safety audit systems, STEC testing of fresh foods, x-ray product inspection and unique positions on the Global Food Safety Initiative and the global regulatory environment, is well known industry wide.

In her role as Director of Food Safety and Quality Assurance for Costco Wholesale, Robin establishes product quality policies and practices and administers test programs to ensure vendor compliance to these policies.  Robin manages an in house laboratory that conducts routine testing for specification monitoring purposes as well as oversees the vendor food safety vendor audit compliance team and the internal food safety operations programs.  Prior to joining Costco, Robin worked as a research scientist for BioControl Systems developing assays to detect foodborne pathogens and as the Director of Microbiology for an independent testing lab.

Robin holds a BS in Biology and a Masters Degree in Food Science.

Jeff Edelen
VP Food Safety, Retail Operations
Whole Foods Market

Jeff Edelen is the Vice President, Retail Food Safety at Whole Foods Market where he leads a talented team of food safety professionals dedicated to customer obsession and Team Member growth, while focusing on the company’s mission to nourish our people and our planet. Jeff is passionate about food safety culture, engagement and accountability working together to provide an exceptional work and shopping experience.

Jeff previously held positions at Amazon as Sr. Manager, Food Safety and enjoyed a 25-year career at The Kroger Co. in various roles including store management, merchandising, operations and Sr. Manager, Food Safety & Regulatory Compliance.

He also served on many committees in the state of Kentucky including Chairman, Food Safety Task Force; and Vice President, President-elect, and President of the Kentucky Association of Milk, Food, and Environmental Sanitarians. He is also a member of the International Association of Food Protection.

Jeff attended the University of Louisville where he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He is also a Certified Professional, Food Safety through the National Environmental Health Association.