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Get to know our KTL team! This month, we are catching up with Principal and Senior Consultant Roberto Bellavia. Roberto has been with KTL for three and a half years and is based in the Chicagoland area.
Tell us a little bit about your background—what are your areas of expertise?
I was born and raised in Rome, Italy. I have a master’s degree in animal production science and started my career in Italy working on the farming side of the food supply chain. I was working with farmers that had small manufacturing operations for cheese, salami, meat, and I was doing food safety (HACCP) plans for them. I also worked in a couple of dairy farms.
I first came to the U.S. in 1999 for a genetic research project at the University of Minnesota on mapping of chromosome 29 in bovine. I moved to the U.S. permanently in 2001, when I got married. I worked at the Italian Chamber of Commerce, made connections, and started working for Turano Pastry Shop as Production Manager. I learned Spanish before I learned English! I wanted to move back into the meat industry, so I began working at Chiappetti Lamb and Veal in the Stockyards District in Chicago, the last federal-inspected plant in the city. When they closed, I moved to U.S. Foods as the Director of Food Safety for the Stockyards brand.
I joined the consulting world at KTL in January 2017. My areas of expertise revolve around food safety, quality, and regulatory compliance. I am well-versed on all the GFSI schemes (i.e., FSSC22000, SQF, BRC, IFS) and the USDA – FSIS and FDA requirements. In this role, I really enjoy working with different people. There is no reporting structure in my team; rather, it is about people working together to achieve the same objectives. I am in the business of food safety. I believe that people always want to do the right thing, but sometimes they need someone to tell them what the right thing is or to show them how to get there.
What types of clients do you work with? What are the biggest issues you see them facing right now?
All my clients are in the food supply chain—from food manufacturing, to food additives and food packaging, to distributors and importers. I also work with a company in the dietary supplement arena, which is an area with growing food safety requirements.
Data management is one of the biggest challenges facing my clients right now. How do you collect and use data, while also protecting information? Every company needs to fulfill someone else’s requirements (e.g., regulatory, standards, customers, supply chain) by submitting information, auditing, reviewing, and assessing and allocating levels of risk. Our clients look to KTL to help them meet those needs.
Training and culture change are two other large areas where food companies rely on KTL’s expertise. When a company decides to pursue a major change in their food safety program, they also need help in culture change and much of that starts with training.
Lastly, the new rules of the FDA – FSMA have been a challenge, including implementing allergen control, environmental, and food defense/intentional adulteration programs.
What would you say is a highlight of your job?
I get to be 100% involved in what I do. I always seek the highest results and take pride in everything I do. It is important to me to show my clients the value they get from working with KTL, and what we have accomplished once our project is done. We are currently focusing a lot of our expertise on data management and predictive analytics, developing dashboards that allow our clients to see in real time the performance of the food safety programs we are developing. It is very satisfying to see those results.
What do you like to do in your free time?
My free time is about my wife, my three kids, and my dog. When I don’t work, I enjoy spending time home. I like to coach soccer and have been a coach for over eight years. I enjoy a home-cooked meal (because I travel and eat out a lot), spending time at the beach (but that never seems to happen), and playing cornhole (a/k/a bean bags). I also like motorsports, so when I can (and when COVID is not cancelling half of the season), I enjoy watching Formula 1 racing (there is something about technology, courage, and teamwork that is fascinating) and European football (a/k/a soccer).
Finally, I enjoy road tripping with the family—or just driving alone—and discovering and seeing something new. I have been in three different Portlands in the U.S.! I feel that every place I go, no matter how remote or rural it is, has something interesting for me to see.
Read Roberto’s full bio.