Karl Thorson
Karl Thorson, food safety and sanitation manager of General Mills has been named Baking & Snack’s 2016 Operations Executive of the Year.

In any competitive field, “proprietary” is the name of the game; but baking also is an inherently collegial industry, so education and idea sharing are just as important. Perhaps no one understands better than Karl Thorson, food safety and sanitation manager, General Mills, and Baking & Snack’s 2016 Operations Executive of the Year.

With a lifetime of experience on a family farm and a degree in food science from the University of Minnesota, Mr. Thorson had an unlikely beginning that put him on a path toward sanitation and food safety. But the reality is that sanitation is an area that has little to no formal educational foundation, observed Baking & Snack’s Editor Joanie Spencer in the magazine’s December issue. And, she added, pathogens and recalls do not discriminate, have no borders and certainly do not require a college degree. Sanitation expertise comes from experience, on-the-job training and the practical execution of creating safe food — three things that Mr. Thorson lives every day.

Mr. Thorson was chosen from a list of highly deserving candidates because of his and General Mills’ dedication to continuous improvements in food safety and sanitation for the baking industry. Today, Ms. Spencer pointed out, Mr. Thorson gets up every day and heads to work with the same goal in mind: Produce high-quality food that is safe to eat. Congratulations to Mr. Thorson for this well-deserved award.