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Food Safety Focus is the online information and resource hub for the Food Safety & Industry Relations Department of the National Restaurant Association. This group stays on the cutting edge of food safety for the foodservice industry. The team is composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds that include experience in food service operations, regulatory affairs, industry suppliers, food manufacturing, and food science. Team members are involved with national and international committees related to food safety. They regularly speak and present on food safety topics relevant to current issues and the future of food safety.

William Weichelt, Food Safety & Industry Relations, National Restaurant AssociationWilliam L. Weichelt
Director, Food Safety & Industry Relations
William L. Weichelt is the Director, Food Safety & Industry Relations for the National Restaurant Association and heads up a team focused on working with the foodservice industry on emerging trends and issues. He has more than 25 years of experience in the foodservice and food manufacturing sectors. William began his career as a line employee at an Indiana-based Pizza Hut and attained the position of lead operations manager before leaving the franchise. Prior to joining the National Restaurant Association in 2007, William served as marketing manager for Silliker, Inc. A graduate of Olivet Nazarene University with a Master’s in Business Administration, he also holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing, business administration, and advertising from Indiana University.

Ashley C. Miller, M.P.H
Sr. Manager, Food Safety and Industry Relations

Ashley C. Miller, M.P.H, is a Sr. Manager for Food Safety & Industry Relations for the National Restaurant Association. Ashley has a diverse background including experience in food manufacturing, food distribution, and foodservice. Prior to joining the National Restaurant Association, she served as a regulatory and technical services manager for Sysco Corporation. Ashley has a bachelor's degree in food science from the University of Florida and a Master’s of Public Health from the University of South Florida.

Mark Miklos, Program Director, National Restaurant AssociationMark “Mick” Miklos, CP-FS
Program Director, Member Engagement

Mick is the Program Director for the Food Safety & Quality Assurance Executive Study Group at the National Restaurant Association.  He also supports the Food & Nutrition and Sustainability study groups and serves as a resource to the ServSafe team.  His previous position at the association was as the Senior Manager of Program Compliance.  Prior to joining the National Restaurant Association in 2013, Mick was the VP of Food Safety & Training for Waffle House, Inc. where he worked for 18 years. 

Mick is a leader on numerous committees with the Conference for Food Protection, the Food and Drug Administration, the Association of Food & Drug Officials and the National Association of City & County Health Officials ensuring that the voice of industry is represented at the table.  He is on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Restaurant Association and the Ecolab Food Safety Advisory Board. He holds Bachelors and Master’s Degrees from the University of South Carolina and is a Certified Professional in Food Safety through the National Environmental Health Association.

Vito Palazzolo, CP-FS
Manager, Food Safety & Industry Relations

Vito Palazzolo, CP-FS, is the Manager, Food Safety & Industry Relations for National Restaurant Association. Palazzolo, who earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental health from Ferris State University, and a Master’s in Public Administration from Central Michigan University, is a familiar and respected presence at industry conferences. A former administrator and sanitarian both the state and local health department level, Palazzolo has more than 30 years of experience in the regulatory arena. He is also a Registered Sanitarian and CP-FS with NEHA. Prior to joining National Restaurant Association, Palazzolo was the administrator for two local health departments. Vito ensures that ServSafe programs remain up to date and technically accurate, and he addresses customer queries regarding food and alcohol safety in the workplace.

Jay Lerdal
Manager, Business Development

Jay Lerdal is the Manager, Business Development for the National Restaurant Association in the Food Safety & Industry Relations Department. Jay has more than 15 years of experience in business development, product management, and sales engineering. Prior to joining the National Restaurant Association in 2007, he served as a business manager for Cargill, Inc. Jay has a bachelor's degree in marketing and finance from the University of Minnesota and an MBA from Loyola University Chicago.