PHOENIX – The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) presented Rob Shumaker, Great Lakes Cheese’s senior manager of corporate food safety, with the 2024 Food Safety Leadership Award.

Specializing in cheese production, Shumaker’s work includes helping the IDFA food safety committee and the University of Wisconsin examine food safety and risk factors. What’s more, IDFA noted Shumaker critically evaluates risks associated with specific cheese varieties, which will help the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) refine which cheeses should be subject to FDA’s most stringent food regulations.

Great Lakes Cheese vice president of safety, food safety, quality and regulatory Edward Learoyd said Shumaker’s relationships within the food and beverage industry are a testament to his work.

“To galvanize industry, academia and regulators around a common agenda requires significant work, creativity and solutions with benefits for all,” Learoyd said. “We are so proud of Rob’s contribution.”

Shumaker called the award a testament to “the unwavering commitment the industry and IDFA have made” to emphasizing safety and quality with dairy production.

“I am deeply appreciative of the guidance and mentorship from industry partners, academia and the management team and Epprecht family at Great Lakes Cheese,” he said. “We remain steadfast in our pursuit of excellence and look forward to advancing food safety initiatives in the industry, supported by the collective efforts of our partners and colleagues."

IDFA shared that in her letter of support for Shumaker’s nomination, Dr. Kathy Glass with the University of Wisconsin’s Food Research Institute wrote, “Rob is a guardian of food safety for Great Lakes Cheese and for the dairy industry.”

Past award winners are: Schreiber Foods, Inc. (2023); Jeremy Travis, vice president of quality and technical services for Hilmar (2022); Dairy Farmers of America (2021); Edith Wilkin, staff vice president and fellow, food safety and regulatory compliance, Leprino Foods (2020); The Ice Cream Club, Inc. (2019); Brian Kraus, director of food safety and regulatory compliance, Wells Enterprises, Inc. (2018); and the Cornell University Dairy Foods Extension team (2017).