According to Merriam-Webster®, a hero is:
- a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability
- an illustrious warrior
- a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities
- one who shows great courage
- the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work
- the central figure in an event, period, or movement
- an object of extreme admiration and devotion : idol
(Please forgive the gender… The dictionary distinguishes between Hero and Heroine.)
We all see the visible heroes – the men and women who serve in the armed forces; the first responders; the everyday people who perform acts of bravery to assist others. Then there are the doctors and nurses in the ER.
But what about all the men and women who protect our food supply – the food safety professionals?
I just returned from the Food Safety Summit in Baltimore. Our team was so impressed with the people we met. These professionals work tirelessly to ensure that the food created in their facilities is produced using safe and certified ingredients and processes; tested for all know contaminants; and can be traced for swift recall if something goes wrong. In addition, they are often responsible for making sure that all of the processes are safe for those working in the factory. These are the people who create the contingency plans so that disasters like Super-storm Sandy wreak as little havoc as possible.
They have to be up to date on ever changing regulations; work with multiple government and regulatory bureaucracies; and often are considered a necessary evil by their employers – after all they do not create any wealth and seem to always spend money.
These too are heroes.