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Food-safety passion

by Bernard Shire
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When Dr. Justin Ransom, assistant vice president for food protection and government affairs at OSI Group LLC, based in Aurora, Ill., began his career in the industry, he hit the ground running. Since joining OSI approximately four-and-a-half years ago, Ransom’s dedication to succeeding as an employee and commitment to improving the industry as a whole, hasn’t gone unnoticed.

In the words of David McDonald, the company’s president and chief operating officer, Justin’s success at OSI is due to the inclusive approach he takes with fellow workers. “Justin is quick to realize the talent and skills he has on his team, and he is willing to engage them as peers,” McDonald says. “He considers their input to be very valuable, and he asks his team to lead, be accountable and do what is best for the group. Being inclusive often takes more time and patience, but getting buy-in allows implementation to be much quicker.”

McDonald describes Ransom’s value to OSI as understanding, using a team approach to get the most value from the entire group and his work before coming to OSI. “His experience with government and regulatory agencies is also a unique perspective, allowing the company to approach government agencies in a cooperative, supportive way that only comes with experience,” he adds.

The 35-year-old meat scientist has developed programs to protect the company’s food supply and improved its food supply chain logistics. He has spearheaded the use of a remote video auditing system to ensure OSI facilities all over the world meet or exceed food-safety standards . And that’s just the beginning.

It’s no surprise that Ransom, a Wichita Falls, Texas native, is making the meat industry his career. He grew up in a family heavily involved in production agriculture and the livestock industry. Ransom went to college and got his undergraduate degree in agriculture communications at Texas Tech Univ., his master’s degree in animal and meat science at Michigan State Univ., and earned his doctorate in animal science and food safety at Colorado State Univ.

“I guess growing up as part of a family raising livestock and in production, I had a great passion for what people eat,” Ransom says. “But then I also became extremely interested in food safety, and that pushed me toward the industry.”

After getting his doctorate in 2004, Ransom decided to not head back to the family ranch, opting instead to work for the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service as an International Marketing Specialist. From there, he joined the OSI Group as director of quality systems. During the last three years, Ransom has been assistant vice president for food protection and government affairs at the company that has manufacturing facilities around the world, but which began as a family owned meat market in Chicago back in 1909. This is his niche, he feels, and he loves his work.

“I think my success has come from being surrounded by great people, and serving on or leading teams made up of talented, hard-working people.”

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