Meet some of the experts who will share exciting & valuable insights at the 2023 ASTA Annual Meeting & Exhibits.
Assistant Professor of Food Microbiology and Safety, Department of Food Science, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture
Jennifer C. Acuff, Ph.D., was appointed as an assistant professor of food microbiology and safety at the University of Arkansas in 2020. She leads a food microbiology lab focusing on low-moisture food safety with projects focused on understanding the persistence of foodborne pathogens in a low-moisture food environment and validating and optimizing thermal and non-thermal interventions used for low-moisture food treatments. Acuff also teaches courses in food microbiology and food biosecurity, as well as serves as an extension specialist in Arkansas for food processors. Acuff received a B.S. in Biology at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, TX, after which she attended Kansas State University (Manhattan, KS) for an M.S. in Food Science, where she studied strategies for mitigation of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli in beef during post-harvest processing. Acuff earned a Ph.D. at Virginia Tech in Food Science, conducting research in low-moisture food safety and evaluating foodborne pathogens’ survival on dried fruits and nuts surfaces during low-temperature vacuum-steam treatments.
Jennifer Adams has nearly two decades of experience trying cases and representing clients in high-stakes environmental disputes. Jennifer has led the defense on complex environmental litigation throughout the U.S., including class action cases on air and water disputes, enforcement matters, indemnification issues, and other environmental disputes. She is also uniquely known for her knowledge and experience with issues relating to ethylene oxide, representing over a dozen facilities that use ethylene oxide in their sterilization processes. She serves as lead trial counsel on ethylene oxide issues and provides crisis management, regulatory guidance, permitting assistance, and general advice on the various laws and regulations that apply.
MSc. Agr. Engineer, Naturnorm
Burçay Aslan is an MSc. Agriculture Engineer at Naturnorm, responsible for spice commodities’ sales and marketing. Before joining Naturnorm, he spent ten years in various positions responsible for sales and marketing in the herbs and spices sector. He graduated from CIHEAM – Mediterranean Institute located in Bari, Italy.
Chairman & CEO, Sage Policy Group, Inc.
Anirban Basu is Chairman & CEO of Sage Policy Group, Inc., a Baltimore-based economic and policy consultancy he founded in 2004. He serves as Chief Economist for many organizations, including the Maryland Bankers Association and Associated Builders and Contractors. The Baltimore Business Journal named him one of the region’s 20 most influential business leaders in 2010. He is the Distinguished Economist in Residence at Goucher College, where he teaches the History of Economic Thought. He earned his B.S. in Foreign Service at Georgetown University in 1990, his Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a Master’s in Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park. His Juris Doctor was earned at the University of Maryland School of Law in 2003.
Vice President of the Spices and Aqua Business, Agri Business Division, ITC Limited
Sanjeev joined ITC in 2001 after completing his Masters in Agri-Business Management from MANAGE and pursuing multiple management programs at IIM Bangalore, IIM Ahmedabad, and Cornell University. He played an instrumental role in setting up the Spices business for ITC and has since been pivotal in driving its growth and establishing same as one of the best food safety solution providers in India. He has also expanded the reach of the business to key major customers and exports to 30+ countries across the globe with end to end traceable value chain. He is part of the ITC Agri Business Division Leadership Team, Chili Task Force Committee member of the Spices Board, and currently is Chairman of All India Spice Export Forum.
Director, Global Food and Water Policy, The Nature Conservancy
Jack Bobo is the Director of Global Food and Water Policy at The Nature Conservancy. He previously served as the CEO of Futurity, a food foresight company, and is the author of the 2021 book, “Why Smart People Make Bad Food Choices.” Recognized by Scientific American as one of the 100 most influential people in biotechnology, he served as the Chief Communications Officer and SVP for Global Policy at Intrexon Corporation and as a senior advisor for food policy at the U.S. Department of State. He holds a J.D., M.S. in Environmental Science, B.S. in biology, and B.A. in psychology and chemistry.
Secretary General, European Spice Association
Martin Einig is the Secretary General of the European Spice Association (ESA). He serves as the leading lobbyist for herbs and spices in the E.U., representing the spice industry to legislators and regulators on various issues. He coordinates as an expert on substances that may occur in herbs and spices in addition to the actual product, from pesticide residues, contaminants, allergens, mycotoxins, and microbiological impurities to adulterations the interests of the spice industry vis-à-vis the European authorities in cooperation with the countries of origin. He holds a degree in chemistry from the University of Bonn, Germany, and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry.
Anthony “Tony” Flood
Sr. Director Ingredient Communications, International Food Information Council (IFIC)
Tony directs the efforts of IFIC’s Food Ingredient Safety committees. In this role, he leads strategic science communications and public outreach efforts on food and ingredient safety, chemicals in food, allergen management and food regulation. Key activities include managing outreach to health professionals, developing consumer resources, implementing rapid response strategies on emerging issues, and leading a diverse network of industry stakeholders to build consensus on risk/science communication and public outreach activities in response to consumer and public interests. Tony graduated from James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA, receiving a BS degree in Communications in 1986, and recently celebrated 28 years at IFIC.
Co-Founder and President, Trade Facilitators, Inc.
Dan Gardner is president of Trade Facilitators, Inc., a Los Angeles- based supply chain consulting firm, and is co-founder of the tech-enabled U.S. freight forwarding and brokerage company Trade XCelerators. Before founding TFI & TXC, Dan worked in the 3rd Party Logistics industry, where he held senior roles that included President of Ocean World Lines, President of Latin America for Exel Global Logistics, and SVP USA with DHL Global Forwarding. Gardner consults with Beneficial Cargo Owners and technology startups on global supply chain management, international logistics, U.S. trade compliance, and technology deployment. He holds an MBA from the University of Miami and is a licensed U.S. Customs Broker.
Commodity Director, McCormick Global Ingredients
Charlie Gill is responsible for the global sourcing of black pepper, white pepper, and cinnamon, developing strategies to deliver sustainable sourcing, innovation, and risk management for McCormick’s regional business units.
Partner, Hogan Lovells LLP and ASTA General Counsel
Maile Gradison is a Partner with Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C., and serves as General Counsel for ASTA. As a “food lawyer,” she keenly understands the issues affecting the food industry, from product development through production, distribution, and retail sale. Gradison has considerable experience with the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), including advising companies on what FSMA means for their business, helping to develop compliance strategies, and providing strategic advice on public policy issues. Her practice also focuses on enforcement and compliance matters, particularly involving recalls or following the receipt of FDA Warning Letters. She graduated with high honors from The George Washington University Law School and summa cum laude from Tulane University.
Chief, Food Technology Branch, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Office of Food Safety, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Elizabeth Grasso-Kelley, Ph.D., serves as the Chief of the Food Technology Branch within the FDA Division of Food Processing Science and Technology. Before the FDA, she was a Scientist at the Institute for Food Safety and Health and an Assistant Professor in Food Science and Nutrition at Illinois Tech. She is a co-lead on the IFSH Low Moisture Foods Safety Taskforce, a member of the Center for Low-Moisture Food Safety, and on the ISO Working Draft on Microbiology of the Food Chain – Requirements and guidelines for conducting challenge tests. Her research expertise involves evaluating the survival and inactivation of foodborne pathogens within low-water activity commodities and processing environments, including equipment sanitation. She received her B.S. degree in Food Science from The Pennsylvania State University and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Food Science and Nutrition and Food Science and Technology, respectively, from The Ohio State University.
Professor of Cooperative Extension – Microbial Food Safety,
Department of Food Science and Technology Western Center for Food Safety, University of California
Dr. Linda Harris is a Professor of Cooperative Extension in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of California Davis and a collaborator in the U. S. Food and Drug Administration-funded Western Center for Food Safety. She oversees a research program on microbial food safety of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and other low-moisture foods. She provides expertise on food safety microbiology throughout the food chain, and the scientific output of her staff and students has been widely recognized. Professor Harris is a fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists, the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and, in 2020, she was awarded the UC Davis Academic Federation’s highest honor, the James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award, in recognition of her distinguished career-long contributions to the mission of the university.
Technical Director, Sensient Natural Ingredients
Dan Hemming is the Technical Director at Sensient Natural Ingredients, based in Turlock, California. After graduating with degrees in chemistry and botany from Brigham Young University, Dan began his career in Central California working in the onion and garlic processing industry, initially working with nutraceutical-grade garlic. Dan spent his high school years working for his mother’s small catering business, so his interests in food and food processing led him to roles in the vegetable and spice processing industries. Over his 25+ years in the industry, Dan has held various positions in product & process development, product quality, food safety and technical sales, and various volunteer positions in the American Spice Trade Association, Institute of Food Technologists and Research Chef’s Association. Dan has been married to his bride, Christina, for 32 years. They have three adult children, a fantastic daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, including a brand new one-month-old grandson. Besides spending time with his family, Dan enjoys fly-fishing and kayaking in California’s beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Chief Operating Officer, Cosmed Group, Inc.
David Howe is the Chief Operating Officer of Cosmed Group, Inc. In this role, Mr. Howe oversees multiple facilities providing contract services for post-harvest agricultural commodities, including nuts, spices, and dried fruits. Mr. Howe has developed technologies that use steam, dry heat, methyl bromide, ozone, ethylene oxide, and propylene oxide. He is a co-inventor of US Patent 6800246, “Bulk decontamination and degermination of materials in a sub-atmospheric saturated steam environment.” Among other professional affiliations, Mr. Howe is a member of the International Association of Food Protection and the Ethylene Oxide Sterilization Association and is a former member of the ASTA Board of Directors.
Founder and CEO, Private Enterprise NATUR SVIT
Andrey Inshyn is the founder and CEO of the Private Enterprise NATUR SVIT, also founding the farming company INBERRY in Sumy, Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Spice Association. In 2009 Inshyn began the business of growing pesticide-free spices in Ukraine. His company became the first in post-Soviet countries to develop sustainable spices, including coriander, yellow mustard, and mustard oriental, with unique characteristics. As a result of many years of joint work with Ukrainian farmers, he is a leader in Ukraine’s production of spices without pesticides. He is a graduate of Sumy State University in Ukraine.
Global Food Industry Expert, Kreyenborg GmbH & Co. KG
Sebnem Karasu is currently with Kreyenborg GmbH & Co. KG, and was previously Managing Director for Henry Brock Ingredients. Sebnem is experienced in industrial sales, working with overseas and local suppliers, expanding product portfolios, handling accounts, managing employees, shipments, and increasing profitability. Her company, Karasu Consulting, has consulted on Global Food Safety Standards, food safety culture, and FDA requirements. Sebnem is also CEO of Cherish Foods LLC, which offers healthy and nutritional vegetable-based dips and spreads. The company was put on hold during Covid but remains active. She attended the Izmir Institute of Technology in Turkey. She earned a Master of Science in Biotechnology and Bioengineering and a Bachelor of Science in Food Engineering from Ege University, Izmir, Turkey.
Sebnem started her involvement with ASTA in 1999. Since then, she’s served on ASTA’s Food Safety Committee and taken various roles in the sub-committees, including HACCP/GMP, Validation, and Allergen Task Force. She has worked on implementing and reviewing guidance documents and advising on ASTA education. Sebnem also served as the Associate member representative for the Board of Directors in 2019.
Food Safety Consultant, Food Safety Team Extended, LLC
Jeff Kuehm, Food Safety Team Extended, LLC
Jeff Kuehm is a passionate food safety consultant with over forty years of experience as a food and beverage industry microbiologist. He started his career in the food industry at Ralston Purina’s soy protein plant in Memphis, TN, as part of the Quality Assurance team. Jeff later spent 23 years as the Director of R&D Food Safety for PepsiCo North America Foods and Global Snacks before leaving to start his consultancy practice. Jeff brings a practical approach to food safety, assisting in areas such as hazard analyses and food safety plans; product design for safety and stability; manufacturing food safety gap assessments; microbiological controls and troubleshooting; environmental controls and monitoring program reviews, and executing swab-a-thons; supply chain verification; sanitation verification and run time validations; and allergen control program assessments. Jeff not only has expertise in a variety of savory snacks but also has experience with numerous product types, including blended seasonings. He received his BS and MS in Biology from the University of Memphis.
Senior Director of Global Sales, AIB International
Judi Lazaro joined AIB International in 1990. After various roles, including food safety inspector and Head of Audit Services in North America, she is now the Senior Category Director, Food Safety, Global Sales. After graduating from college, she served in the U.S. Army as a Commissioned Officer and started a career with Frito Lay, Inc. She is passionate about food safety and produces solutions to complex issues.
VP, Global Quality and Food Safety, McCormick & Company. Inc.
Larry Lichter has over 35 years of food industry experience, with 33 years at McCormick & Company, Inc. Larry has held significant roles in Quality Assurance, Supply Chain and Commercial functions. As Vice President of Global Quality and Food Safety for McCormick, Mr. Lichter leads the global efforts to assure food safety excellence, quality systems performance, quality/business partnership, food integrity and technology development. He is a member of the Board of Directors and the Immediate Past President of the American Spice Trade Association. He is very active with charities supporting the homeless population of Baltimore. Larry is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a degree in Biology. He also currently serves on the International Advisory Board for BRC Global Standards, the Advisory Council for the Joint Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition and the Advisory Board for the Center for Research on Ingredient Safety, is a Board Member of Paul’s Place in Baltimore. McCormick Stands Together for Together for the Future of FlavorTM as a global leader in flavor with more than $6.3 billion in annual sales. McCormick manufactures, markets and distributes spices, condiments, flavors, seasoning mixes, and many other flavorful products to the entire food industry in more than 170 countries and territories.
Hoang Thi Liên
Chairperson, Vietnam Pepper Association
Hoang Thi Lien is the chairperson of one of the world’s largest pepper associations, the Vietnam Pepper Association (VPA). Before joining VPA in 2021, she worked at the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam for over ten years. She mastered skills in international trade and business, trade and investment policy framework, related rules and regulations, regional and international economic integration, and global trade. She was also posted during 2010-2016 as Commercial Attaché at Vietnam Embassy in Malaysia, gaining experience in international trade issues. She was the Executive Director of the International Pepper Community, an Intergovernmental Organization of pepper-producing countries, from 2017-2021.
Chairman and CEO, BCFoods; President, China Spice Association
Mike Liu has been the Chairman and CEO at BCFoods, since 2007. In 2017 he was elected president of the China Spice Association (CSA). Under Mike’s leadership, BCFoods has become a leading global food ingredients supplier with manufacturers in China, an operation and R&D center in Chicago, global ingredients partners, worldwide distribution platforms, and 3PL services. As the founding president of CSA, he works with CSA colleagues for China’s national food ingredients standards and cooperates with international professional associations to host the China Spice Conference. He was a professor at Shandong Agriculture University, Taian, Shandong, China, from 1985-1996, a visiting scholar at Texas Tech University from 1996-1998, and a Research Scientist at the University of California, Davis, from 1998-2000.
Director of Food Safety and Commercial Products, Sterigenics
Steve has worked in sales and procurement in the food industry for over 40 years. He has been the Director of Food Safety at Sterigenics for 15-years offering services for bacteria and pathogen reductions. His clients are in spice/seasoning, packaging, cosmetics, crop science, pet treats, and various other markets. He specializes in gamma irradiation and propylene oxide modalities but is also familiar with ethylene oxide. Steve graduated from the University of Nebraska with a degree in Agriculture Economics.
Dr. Douglas L. Marshall
Chief Scientific Officer, Eurofins
Dr. Douglas L. Marshall is Chief Scientific Officer with Eurofins Microbiology Laboratories. Formerly he was Associate Dean and Professor of Public Health, College of Natural and Health Sciences, University of Northern Colorado and a Contributing Editor of the scientific journal Food Microbiology. His career focus is to improve the microbiological quality and safety of foods, with numerous publications and consultations in the area. He has received the Mississippi Chemical Corporation Award of Excellence for Outstanding Work and the International Association for Food Protection Educator and Harold Barnum Industry Awards. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists.
Vice President, Supply Chain & Administration, Silva International
Pontus Mattsson is Vice-President, Supply Chain & Administration at Silva International, Inc. Through his almost 20 years at Silva; he has held various procurement and supply chain functions. Pontus oversees procurement, international operations, and quality in his current role at Silva International. His current responsibilities include oversight of regulatory compliance with relevant authorities throughout the supply chain, direct procurement and supply chain sustainability.
Pontus is the current President of ASTA’s Board of Directors. He also serves on the Financial Task Force and Annual Meeting Program Committees.
Pontus holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the American University of Paris.
Food Futurist, Bread & Circus Ltd.
Liz Moskow is an industry veteran with a Culinary Institute of America pedigree and over two decades of brand, culinary, hospitality, and consumer packaged goods experience. Moskow is considered a globally recognized Food Futurist who predicts and sets trends. She is a skilled developer of virtual brand concepts, brick-and-mortar restaurants, and packaged products, trusted by many companies across the industry. As an expert on the rapidly changing food and beverage landscape, she identifies leading-edge culinary trends that will impact concept, menu, product development pipelines, and off-premise consumer behavior.
CEO, European Spice Services NV (ESS)
Raf Nonneman is the CEO of European Spice Services NV (ESS), a leading Europe-based supplier of dehydrated vegetables, herbs, and spices, with over 35 years of industry experience. In 2000 he established European Spice Services NV, one of Europe’s leading spices & dehydrated vegetable distributors. In 2008, Nonneman formed China Spice Services Ltd, a sourcing & trading company located in Shanghai, Shandong, and Yunnan. They assure the highest quality standards by conducting on-site quality inspections and acquiring firsthand market intelligence on garlic, onion, dehydrated vegetables, and spices.
President, Nedspice U.S.
Tom Overby is President of Nedspice U.S., an affiliated company of Nedspice Group, headquartered in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Tom has been in the spice industry for over 40 years, starting his career with the RT French Company upon graduation from Missouri State University in 1977. Tom has held increasingly responsible positions in manufacturing, planning, purchasing, sales/marketing, and joint venture operations and has traveled extensively to source markets during his career. Tom served on the ASTA Board of Directors for six years and was ASTA President from 2000-2002.
Peter Sayia Jr.
Partner, A.A. Sayia & Co.
Peter Sayia has been a partner with A.A. Sayia & Co., Inc. since 2008. Before that, he spent seven years as a fixed-income trader covering global debt markets in London and Hong Kong with JP Morgan. At A.A. Sayia, he is responsible for sourcing all varieties of seeds and red peppers, working with suppliers from Europe to Asia. Sayia currently serves as Treasurer on ASTA’s Board of Directors and the ASTA Board Financial Task Force. He is also the Board Liaison on the ASTA Supply Chain Task Force and Crop Report Task Force. He has served on ASTA’s Annual Program Planning Committee, Arbitration Board, and Government Relations Committee. He graduated from George Washington University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.
President, Harris Spice Company
Peter Shah is the President of Harris Spice Co, Inc. –based in Anaheim, CA. Peter joined Harris Spice’s Houston, Tx location in 1994 looking after their warehouse operations and assisting in coffee trading positions as well as managing ethnic tea sales. After completing his bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Houston in 1998, Peter moved west and joined the Spice Division in Southern California as a young spice trader. Even though a Texan at heart, he call So. Cal his home where he lives with his wife and 2 teenage sons. In the 23 years since, Harris Spice has grown one of the world’s most distinguished processed-spice importer and distributor. Harris Spice possesses a strong supply chain spanning the globe with its 2 main processing plants in Anaheim & Vietnam as well as partner-affiliates in India & Turkey. Harris offers its North American, European, Far East & Australian customers a total spice solution with its core “5P” philosophy – Plant, Process, Product, Performance and Partnership. With its strength in Food Safety, fiscal conservativeness and constant product & service innovations, Harris Spice continually provides a strong end-to-end value chain. Peter currently serves in the ASTA Board and is in his 4th and final term.
CEO, Jain Farm Fresh
Suvan Sharma is the CEO at Jain Farm Fresh. Besides food business responsibilities, Suvan takes a keen interest in talent nurturing, future leaders development and growth, strategic initiatives of the food business, and long view. Suvan Sharma has been with the company for more than 27 years, lived and worked in different countries. He has played an active role in organic and inorganic growth, mergers, and acquisitions of the company’s food business. Suvan Sharma has a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce and a Masters in Business Administration.
Deputy CEO, Giza Seeds & Herbs
Seif Shazly is the Deputy CEO of Giza Seeds & Herbs. He oversees commercial, supply chain, and growth. He has 10+ years of experience in business transformations, and with Mostafa Bedair, Giza’s CEO, he has successfully doubled Giza’s business in the last five years. Before Giza, Shazly was a consulting manager at Bain & Company, focusing on private equity projects and post-merger integrations in Europe and the Middle East.
Executive Director, ASTA
Laura Shumow has been with the American Spice Trade Association since September 2018. She works with the ASTA Board of Directors to set the association’s strategic direction and with the ASTA staff to ensure goals are met. Before joining ASTA, Laura worked at the National Confectioners Association as the vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, overseeing the Chocolate Council, a decision-making body that handles issues specific to the cocoa and chocolate industry. She has a strong background in domestic and international regulatory issues, serving as chair of the Food Laws and Regulations Section of the Institute of Food Technologists, and a proven track record of success in addressing challenges related to the supply chains of food ingredients sourced from developing countries. Laura received her master’s in health sciences from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a bachelor’s degree in food science from the University of Wisconsin. She is an active member of several professional societies, including the Institute of Food Technologists, where she serves as chair of the Food Laws and Regulations Section.
Marcel van Dijk
Cargo Marketing Manager, Port of Los Angeles, CA
Marcel van Dijk has been the Port of Los Angeles Marketing Manager since 2001. He is responsible for the port’s business development and maintains relationships with key individuals in the logistic chain and beneficial cargo owners. He focuses on bulk and break-bulk cargo handling with responsibility as an account manager for bulk and containerized terminals at the Port of Los Angeles. With his knowledge of the major import and export cargoes, he is keen to develop the port as a major gateway for containerized and non-containerized cargo. Before joining the Port of Los Angeles, van Dijk worked for 15 years in the private sector, a career that spanned many phases of corporate management. He received a Bachelor’s degree from the Economic and Administrative College in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Vice President of Marketing, PT. Indoharvest Spice
Steven Winarto is the Vice President of Marketing at PT. Indoharvest Spice, the leading and largest exporter of cinnamon and nutmeg in Indonesia to more than 50 different countries worldwide. In the last decade, the focus on organic and sustainable sourcing has been the number one mission for PT. Indoharvest Spice. To date, they have thousands of farmers within their supply chain covering over 750 hectares nationwide, with hundreds certified under our Organic Program.
Molecular Mixologist, Mixology San Diego
Mike Yen is an award-winning, modern mixologist and active member of the U.S. Bartenders Guild. With over 15 years of mixology experience, Yen’s skillset covers a range of subgenres, from cocktail catering to gastropubs to 5-star and 5-diamond resorts. Yen has been featured in various print and television media, including the Cooking Channel. The past 10+ years have focused on modernist, progressive techniques, often labeled “molecular mixology.” San Diego Mixology utilizes equipment like rotary evaporators, centrifuges, and ultra-sonic processors to transform cocktails into unique vehicles for flavors.