Winners selected for exemplary performance in Auditing and Practitioner Leadership

Arlington, VA – The Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI), a division of FMI – The Food Industry Association, announced Joe Wieland and Karen Vanegas as recipients of the 2022 SQF Excellence Awards at SQF Unites in Orlando, Fla. Wieland was recognized with the Excellence in SQF Auditing Award while Vanegas received the Excellence in SQF Practitioner Leadership Award.

Excellence in SQF Auditing

The award for Excellence in SQF Auditing is given to a credentialed SQF auditor who demonstrates exceptional performance and dedication to the SQF Program through high-quality audits, professional development activities, leadership and mentorship skills and promotion of food safety culture.

As lead auditor for the EAGLE Certification Group, Wieland provides a strong understanding and passion for food safety. Wieland takes a thoughtful approach to training and developing new EAGLE auditors—offering lessons learned from his personal experience, listening to concerns and clearly sharing the intent of the SQF audit deliverables.

“Joe is humble in his approach and takes every opportunity to learn and expand his knowledge, sharing it at each and every interaction with other auditors and site representatives,” said Nancy Berger-Turner, senior business development manager of EAGLE Certification Group. “We meet people along our career path that have a positive impact on many, and Joe Wieland is definitely one of those select individuals.”

Excellence in SQF Practitioner Leadership

The award for Excellence in SQF Practitioner Leadership is presented to an SQF practitioner within an SQF Certified Site who demonstrates extraordinary leadership and promotion of food safety at their workplace.

Vanegas is a coordinator of quality systems for The Hershey Company and regularly demonstrates remarkable dedication to the SQF Program by leading Hershey’s Monterrey plant team annually in SQF audit certification. Vanegas’ leadership is displayed across all levels of her organization as she fosters a food safety culture to positively impact a facility with almost 2,000 employees.

“Karen has worked closely with her assigned plant cross-functional teams to drive food safety awareness and build quality advocates,” said Mike Lapioli, global regulatory and food safety at The Hershey Company. “She is passionate about her personal and professional development … and has been instrumental in her plant’s SQF and overall food safety performance.”

The 2022 SQF Excellence Awards are presented by Exemplar Global. For more information about the 2022 SQF Excellence Awards, please visit

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About SQFI

SQFI is a division of FMI, established to administer the SQF Program, a leading, global food safety, and quality certification and management system. Our mission is to deliver consistent, globally-recognized food safety and quality certification programs based on sound scientific principles, applied across all industry sectors and valued by all stakeholders.