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Bite Sized Insights for Food Industry Professionals

The Feed Alchemy Systems Blog

Holly Mockus

With over 30 years of experience in the food industry at companies like ConAgra, Kellogg, and Sara Lee, Holly has recently joined the Alchemy Systems team where she currently helps the firm to create world class workforce development solutions for large, complex operations within the food industry. Holly has held positions in food safety, quality assurance, sanitation, and plant regulatory affairs. She has authored several chapters related to the importance of record keeping and documentation in the food industry. She was honored to become the 2013 recipient of the Safe Quality Food Institute's Outstanding Achievement Award, and is passionate about the importance of training in the food industry including the cultivation of successful safety cultures.
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Recent Posts

Key Takeaways from Food Logistics Forum

Posted by Holly Mockus

Jun 16 2016
Jun 16 2016

The American Frozen Foods Institute (AFFI) Logistics Forum provided an opportunity to bring together many different stakeholders that are affected not only by the FSMA Sanitary Transport Rule, but also by the same headwinds that are affecting the entire food industry.  Attendees also had a chance to meet Alison Bodor, the new AFFI President and CEO at the event. The forum shared a wealth of useful information, from legislative topics to case studies, panel discussions, sector summaries by subject matter experts, as well as providing opportunities for networking. To say the least, this conference was value packed.

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Topics: Operations, Food Safety

FDA Labeling Changes: A Survival Guide

Posted by Holly Mockus

Jun 14 2016
Jun 14 2016

Labeling changes can keep you awake at night—literally. Whether it’s an update to a company logo or a minor change to an ingredient statement, changing labels will raise your stress level. Using labels out of sequence, obsolete labels, or just plain wrong labels can be costly. Labeling mistakes will take a chunk out of your bottom line, lead to loss of customer and consumer confidence, or trigger a recall.  

Recently, the FDA published a large change to the requirements for nutritional labeling that is now open for comment. A change like this will affect every package that currently has a nutritional panel. Although it may seem like this change is off in the distant future, it’s never too soon to start preparing for a change of this magnitude. Survival requires a keen awareness of common pitfalls so you can come out on the other end unscathed.

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Topics: Compliance

The 4 Levels Of Organic Food Certification

Posted by Holly Mockus

May 18 2016
May 18 2016

Organic labeling claims are a great way to market your products' unique attributes and value. But claims that misrepresent the product or fail to live up to the consumer's expectations  will not result in repeat sales or customer loyalty.  When making such a claim, be sure all support for the claim is accurate, science based, supported, and verified.*

If you are having your retail food product certified organic, you’ll want to decide which level of organic certification your product will quality for and determine what your marketing/quality goals are.

There are four options for organic claims — two of them may use the USDA Organic Seal on their packaging, and two of them may not.

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Topics: Food Safety

What’s All This Talk about Huddle Talks?

Posted by Holly Mockus

Apr 28 2016
Apr 28 2016


It doesn’t matter what you call them – huddle talks, tailgate talks, pre-shift meetings, team meetings, stand up meetings, etc. – they all play a critical role in setting up high performing teams for success.  They may be short and sweet ‘chats’ but they pack a punch in helping to navigate the complexities encountered during each production day.  It is also an awesome opportunity to reinforce workplace safety, food safety, and quality requirements

Here are a few tips for conducting an effective huddle talk.

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Topics: Training

The Distribution Chain – The Upside to the Sanitary Transport Rule

Posted by Holly Mockus

Apr 8 2016
Apr 8 2016


The final FSMA Sanitary Transportation Rule will be changing the supply chain as we now know it.  With increasing responsibility being placed on the business relationships between shippers, loaders, carriers, and receivers, we will be seeing contracts rewritten to spell out responsibilities for things like trailer and tanker cleanliness, temperature control and monitoring, and required documentation.

The transportation industry will be getting a taste of regulatory food safety requirements that will reverberate throughout the supply chain. The upside for the food industry is plentiful and includes:

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Topics: Compliance

How Do You Measure Food Safety Culture?

Posted by Holly Mockus

Nov 6 2015
Nov 6 2015

If you've had the time to digest the FSMA final rules that have been published by the US. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you most likely noted the part about measuring Food Safety Culture when the FDA investigators are conducting an audit. (Note, they are not called inspectors anymore – they are now investigators).  We are also seeing SQF, BRC and other GFSI audit schemes ramping up discussions around measuring culture. 

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Topics: Food Safety

IAFP Conference: Observing the Future of Food Safety Education

Posted by Holly Mockus

Aug 10 2015
Aug 10 2015

I recently attended the annual IAFP (International Association of Food Protection) conference in Portland, OR. I can honestly say this conference really improves each year. Portland was a beautiful city to host this event and the wide variety of topics discussed did not disappoint. From the latest in research, to food fraud to sanitary design, to recent industry events, to updates on regulation – there was an abundance of information to stimulate the mind of every stakeholder in attendance.

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Topics: Industry Conferences

Employee Appreciation Starts with Knowledge

Posted by Holly Mockus

May 29 2015
May 29 2015

In honor of employee appreciation month, I’d like to share what I’ve found to be the greatest gift of appreciation in almost any occupation – knowledge.

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Topics: Training

7 Steps To Improve Food Industry Training Programs

Posted by Holly Mockus

Apr 23 2015
Apr 23 2015

Life in a food manufacturing plant can be hectic and unpredictable, to say the least. On the positive side – no two days are ever the same. On the not so positive side – YIKES – keeping track of all that needs to be done while working through ‘challenges and opportunities’ is more turbulent than hurricane force winds! 

To keep your head on straight, your training programs should be the first thing pulled out of the tool kit when dealing with a change or issue. So how do you create an agile and strategic program? 

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Topics: Training

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