True World Group hires former Walmart boss as new food safety executive
Seafood holding company True World Group has hired Neil Checketts as its new vice president of food safety and compliance, the firm announced on 26 September.
In his new role, Checketts will be True World’s first group-wide food safety executive, overseeing food safety personnel and programs across the enterprise’s seafood, grocery, and restaurant companies.
True World Group, which owns diversified seafood companies and multiple East Asian culture enterprises in the Western Hemisphere, is looking to Checketts’ hiring as the first step in advancing its overarching food safety aspirations.
“The appointment marks the first step in a broader True World Group initiative to encourage the seafood industry to enhance food safety standards, particularly for fish consumed raw,” the company said in a press release.
Checketts, who is a registered environmental health scientist, most recently worked at Utah-based Kneaders Bakery and Café, which franchises in eight states. He first served as the company’s vice president of food safety before being promoted to chief operating officer in 2017.
His career has taken Checketts through the ranks with prominent U.S. retailer Walmart, where he spent six years in various food safety capacities, most notable of which being a stint as the company’s senior director of food safety for the United States. Checketts also spent for four years working as the vice president of food safety, quality assurance, quality control, and regulatory affairs for Sobeys Inc, the second largest food retailer in Canada. He has served in supervisory positions with several local health departments in Utah as well.
An established veteran of the food safety realm, Checketts’ expertise will match up well with True World’s key values and aims, according to the group’s president Robert Bleu.
“As a trusted source of quality fresh and frozen seafood for nearly four decades, we have always placed a priority on food safety. Bringing Neil on board will not only help us coordinate and standardize our safety programs across all group companies, but also support our goal of assuming leadership on driving safety improvements across the industry,” said Bleu. “With his extensive experience in all areas of safety and regulatory compliance gained over 20 years in the food business, he will be a great asset to our organization as well as to the seafood industry as a whole.”
With raw fish preparations on-trend, the need to facilitate proper food safety assurances is a pressing priority, said Checketts.
“The rising popularity of sushi has made it more important than ever to ensure that raw fish is safe to eat. This is a challenge faced by every supplier, restaurant and retail grocery in the space, and particularly for a company with the distribution reach of True World Group,” Checketts said. “I was drawn to True World because of its strong record of commitment to safety and continuous improvement, its footprint in the market, and the opportunity to play a role in shaping new supplier standards that can help ensure that consumers are protected when they order sushi.”