3 Common Misconceptions About Being a Food Laboratory Technician

This month Cherney features Kea Schmuhl, one of our dedicated Sample Preparations Technicians who looks to clear up some of the misconceptions about working in a testing laboratory.  Thank you to Kea for her insight and unique perspective!

When people ask me what I do for a living and I say, “I’m a Sample Preparation Technician,” or work in a “Food Safety Testing Laboratory” they often make generalized assumptions. These thoughts tend to be based on the stereotypes they have seen on TV or read in a book portraying laboratory technicians.  However, quite a few of these assumptions are not the case when describing my role as a Sample Preparation Technician at Cherney.

CEO Corner – An Introduction to Cherney's new COO

As stated earlier in the year - we’ve given Founder & CEO Debra Cherney the opportunity to share thoughts on any topic of her choice.  While many of them will be related to food safety, the one below is of excitement so please, read on!  


To our Cherney community consisting of customers, colleagues, and industry friends.  It is my extreme pleasure to share with you the announcement of Cherney’s new Chief Operating Officer (COO), Steve Kuchenberg, who officially starts with our organization on Monday, September 25th.  Steve's extensive experience within our industry brings a new level of competence and technical expertise to our organization and while I’m personally very excited for him to lead our organization into the future, our team at Cherney will soon see how his passion for doing the right thing for those around him will quickly pass onto you our valued customers.  Steve and I are in lockstep agreement about what actions will be taken to achieve our strategic vision for Cherney.  A very exciting time is ahead, welcome Steve! - Debra Cherney

The Importance of Auditing the Internal Laboratory

In the past few years, we have seen an increase in customers asking for an onsite audit of their internal labs. These requests may occur when new tests are brought online or in-house, when there are questionable results or as a routine activity in the company’s food safety program.  Not surprisingly, members of our technical team love doing these audits!  We get to share our lab experience, technical microbiology knowledge and best practices to help our customers improve the quality of testing they perform. We always learn after an audit, seeing different operations and processes from the customer perspective.

Summertime Sample Shipping Reminders

Summer = sunshine +hot weather + “hopeful” vacations!  While this is a likely equation, our teams at Cherney have been noticing some reoccurring issues with incoming samples in the past few weeks.  While we have worked with customers directly, it also gives us the opportunity for a very relevant blog topic.  The information shared below is CRITICALLY IMPORANT to ensuring that the samples being submitted to the laboratory arrive in the best possible condition.  This allows for two things: 1) superior sample integrity and 2) the generation of accurate test results.

Ready for a Midyear Check-In? Performing Due Diligence with your PT Participation

We started off the year discussing the importance of participating within a Proficiency Testing (PT) program if you are generating internal testing results within your facility. Without this valuable information, your company may be at risk due to not knowing with 100% accuracy that the results being generated are true.  In the world of food safety today, this should not be one of those toss a coin moments.  Simple but true – if you are generating your own results, MAKE SURE you are participating in a PT program!

Engagement & Empowerment = Happy Employees!

It is not a secret that companies across the county are looking to build their workforce to include motivated and engaged individuals. This leads to two questions: 1) what does this mean for your organization and 2) what does this mean for you?  How does “engagement” and “empowerment” correlate to the actions occurring at your company?  Does it mean having your employee’s interested in what the company is doing?  Giving them the power to come up with changes and implement them?

CEO Corner – Putting Your Interest First Every Time

In our first edition of our quarterly CEO Corner – we’ve given Founder & CEO the opportunity to share thoughts on any topic. While many of them will be related to food safety, the one below is the perfect piece to awareness to Cherney and just one of the many core values that drives our team day in and day out. Enjoy!


Providing an unmatched level of customer service is the foundation upon which my company was founded.  It is one of the main core values we strive to achieve every single day.  Recently, I experienced an incident personally that reminded me of the importance of this value and how it impacts our continued success. 

Are You Being Trained or Mentored... Part 1....

In working as chemist for the  past 20 years, I have been both the trainer and the trainee.  These experiences range across  various laboratory settings, from three laboratory employees to hundreds. Each laboratory defines training differently; a well-established process by which someone is taught the skills that are necessary for a profession or a job.  It also has well-defined learning objectives and formality.   

In modern day training, there is a strong focus on the trainer being a subject matter expert.  The trainer has extensive experience or knowledge in the subject that is being delivered.    It is expected that the participants in the training learn from the trainer.   It is a  formal process in which  guidelines must be followed objectives accomplished, and skills verified.

Recall Ready...or Ready Too Late?


RECALL.  One of the scariest, if not the scariest words that can be uttered by a manufacturing facility. Everyone knows how much it can cost, anything from lost product to lost careers and even companies.   We often find that companies do not invest the time and focus on their Environmental Monitoring Program until it is already too late and they are now in the process of withdrawing product from the market.  Ask yourself the following questions:

Ready to Catch the Second Wave?

Our blog to kick of 2017 related to starting of the year on the right with FOCUS – focus for your company, focus for your food safety plan and focus for continuing education.  We announced our 2017 Cherney College course listing for the year and talked high level about our strategic initiatives to increase our technical training opportunities outside of our building.  With only a month under our belt, our first course – FSPCA Preventive Controls for Human Food class is complete and went off quite well. 

If you have attended one of our classes or are considering it, know that everything we do it intentional.  Our smaller class size – intentional.  Customized material – intentional.  Real life examples with an open forum - intentional.  Believe us when we say “we’re not just an education provider; we want to be your partner!”  I had to opportunity to talk with a few of our participants yesterday during lunch and here is what they had to say.