Nirupan Nithiananthan is a Certified Food Scientist (CFS) who holds a managerial position in Quality Assurance Systems at one of the leading North American companies in the Food Manufacturing Sector.
His journey began at the University of Guelph, where he initially enrolled in a co-op program with a major in Chemistry. During his first co-op placement that happened to be in the food industry, he soon realized his passion for the field. As a result, he changed his major from chemistry to food science. This change understandably raised great concern in his Tamil household, where his parents had no previous knowledge of such a field and saw a very uncertain future for their son. After some convincing, Nirupan was able to help them recognize his passion and love for this field. With this new found support, he was able to finish with Honours at the University of Guelph in Food Science and a minor in Chemistry.
Having had an array of co-op experiences in the Food Manufacturing Sector throughout his undergraduate years, he was able to land a job soon after graduating as a HACCP Coordinator at one of the largest dairy cooperatives in Canada. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, a food safety system widely used in the food industry to ensure food safety is maintained through tested protocol and scientific literature. Through this position, Nirupan was able to gain invaluable experience in customer, regulatory, and third party audits. In addition, he also obtained several certifications during this time, including but not limited to: Food Defense in HACCP, General Principles of Pasteurization, and Safe Quality Food (SQF) auditor accreditation.
With his vast experience and new certifications, Nirupan was able to land another position as a QA Systems Coordinator in the Processed Foods/Infant Sector. In his new role, he was able to expand his knowledge in a corporate perspective on Food Safety and its application on a grander scale. Working with QA Managers, he attained unique insight and exposure. The array of knowledge and experience he gained on multiple food safety systems and best practices helped him build the ideal food safety plan that worked for one of the leading companies in the Food Manufacturing Sector in North America, Skjodt-Barrett Foods Inc. He was soon after promoted to Manager in Quality Systems.
Through his managerial position, Nirupan ensures Quality Systems are in place for continuous compliance and maintenance of regulatory, customer and third party audit requirements. He works with a large multi-faceted team of Maintenance/Engineering, Operations, Human Resource, Transportation/Shipping and Quality, in order to ensure compliance with audit requirements. As a manager, Nirupan investigates any major concerns that may result in product deviations. He also monitors the facility for additional protocols or programs that can increase quality and develop safer products, while ensuring that production efficiency isn’t compromised. At Skjodt-Barett Foods Inc., Nirupan has developed strong communication with quality, production and maintenance employees, thereby establishing open relationships with them which has facilitated the discovery of issues that need to be addressed immediately. Another very appealing aspect about his job is that he gets to travel across North America. Nirupan provides support in audits occurring in the Canadian and US company locations.
“My greatest motivation was exposure to the industry. I believe every student should be exposed to the industry they wish to work in, be it as an intern or a co-op student. This gives a firsthand experience on how the career can turn out and see individuals who have excelled in their respective fields. If you are interested in a particular industry, read about it, there are several industry magazines that share up and coming technology. This is especially relevant in the food manufacturing sector. My advice to individuals who want to do what I did — believe in your strength and be a sponge, learn as much as you can. The food industry is a multi-billion dollar sector and the opportunities are endless.” – Nirupan Nithiananthan
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Co-Executive Editors – Stefi Anthonipillai & Narmitha Kanagaratnam