ARLINGTON, VA - The Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI) and the FMI Foundation recognized individuals from the global food safety and quality communities who have demonstrated academic excellence and leadership within the food safety profession at the SQF Global Conference, a unique virtual, interactive event spanning two hemispheres and uniting the worldwide food safety community.

Food Safety Auditing Scholarship

The FMI Foundation in partnership with SQFI, a division of FMI – The Food Industry Association, awarded 15 academic scholars with the 2020 Food Safety Auditing Scholarship and Education Travel Grant.  

FMI Foundation received more than 71 scholarship applications this year, up from 53 applications in 2019. These 71 applications included 24 Ph.D. students, 27 pursuing master’s degrees and 20 undergraduates in their junior and senior years of study. The scholarship recognizes outstanding students enrolled in a university food and agricultural science program who are interested in pursuing a career in food systems auditing. 

“In this era of heightened consumer regard for matters of health and safety it is critical the food industry is offering the very best in food safety,” said FMI Foundation Executive Director, David Fikes. “More than ever, we need capable food safety auditors with a passion for assuring that secure, high-quality food is produced, packaged, and distributed around the globe. I’m proud the Foundation is supporting the next-generation of well-trained auditors, ensuring high standards of food safety for future generations.”  

The recipients of the 2020 FMI Foundation Food Safety Auditing Scholarship are:

Anna Akariza, Michigan State University 

Bailey Teter, Texas Tech University

Cori Williams, Georgia State University

Grace Le, University of Nebraska-Lincoln 

Helen Hashemi, Texas A&M University

Janny Mendoza, Louisiana State University

Madalyn Arthur, Penn State University

Marcus Washington, Oklahoma State University

Mehdi Hashemi, Texas A&M University

Minho Kim, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Manirul Haque, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Naresh Shahi, Tuskegee University 

Patricia Wang, Cornell University

Thao Nguyen, Niagara College

Veeramani Karuppuchamy, Ohio State University

Each winner receives a $3,000 scholarship with an education travel grant to the SQF Global conference. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, scholarship recipients could either defer the travel grant to attend the conference next year, or virtually attend the conference this year and receive a complimentary SQF auditing course. For additional information about the FMI Foundation and the Scholarship program visit For information about Safe Quality Food Institute visit

SQF Quality Achievement Awards

For nearly a decade, SQFI has honored individuals from the SQF community who are recognized by their peers for their outstanding performance and their commitment to and support of the SQF program.

“This year’s Quality Achievement Awards recognized industry leaders that demonstrated their ability to elevate global food safety standards, while advancing a culture of collaboration, mentorship and integrity within their profession and teams, said Gigi Vita, chief food safety assessment officer and senior vice president of SQF. “The food industry is rapidly evolving, and the leadership of auditors and practitioners are heavily relied upon by retailers and consumers alike to build trust in the food supply chain.”

The recipients of the 2020 Quality Achievement Awards are:

SQF Auditor of the Year 

Kris Middleton, Bureau Veritas Certification

Middleton is noted as having a tremendous amount of integrity and amazing people skills. He is very active in semi-annual Certification body meetings and regularly provides feedback to the SQFI Compliance Committee. Middleton is a tough, but fair auditor and leader who keeps an open mind and encourages people to speak their thoughts.

SQF Practitioner of the Year

Shari Yeatts, Hickman’s Eggs 

Yeatts is a capable SQF practitioner who not only helps expand the company through various projects and initiatives, but also acts as a leader and mentor to her colleagues and community. Yeatts maintains an open-door policy, holds inclusive management meetings, covers a multitude of subjects, and is an active communicator and listener. 

For more information on the SQF Achievement Awards, visit: