Mary Mulry, Ph.D., president of FoodWise, Inc., will be the chair of the Food/Supplements Convergence track at the 2011 Nutracon conference.
FI: How ready do you think the industry was for GMP compliance, even though it had been years in the making?
MM: In my experience, they weren't very ready. They weren't ready on the technical side, with understanding what testing might be required, but they also weren't ready for the volume of paperwork and documentation they were going to have to put in place for dietary-supplement GMPs. I think it was kind of a big surprise to people because — and we have even seen it in the food industry — in the past the FDA was fairly passive about results of audits.
FI: Do you think that the companies have been able to pull it together quickly?
MM: A lot of companies have gotten through the learning curve. I have to say, I think companies are being very diligent at getting up to speed as quick as possible. I think the overall issue of documentation control, and some of the finer points of GMPs, are going to take a few years to really become sort of second nature.
FI: A while back you went to the Ninth Ward in New Orleans on a volunteer trip. What was that experience like?
MM: I went there a little over two years after Katrina; I went there with a friend who was attending a conference there. It was an eye-opening experience, I have to tell you. The first sign I saw there said, "This is our home, please don't gawk." There are actually tour buses going down there just stopping to look. I felt really good that we were actually there to do some community service work. Secondly, it looked like Katrina had happened two months ago, not two years ago. The one thing that we did do was completely redo their community garden. They had a beautiful space, but it had overgrown and needed to be cleaned up and some things planted and with 30-35 people working for four hours, you can get a lot accomplished. There were residents who actually stopped by and personally thanked us for working in the Ninth Ward. It was a really rewarding experience. They still need a lot of help there.
FI: I hear you have a burro. How did you come to have a burro?
MM: My burro's name is Chili Pepper. I had an Appaloosa mare that I wanted to get bred and at the time I also had an Arabian gelding, Candyman, and I insisted that because horses are herd animals that he not be by himself when the mare was sent off to the stallion. So I said we have to get a burro, a goat or a chicken, some kind of companion for Candyman. There was an ad in the paper down by Castle Rock, Colorado, for a yearling burro, for $200 I think, and I called the guy and I said I do not have a horse trailer to transport him up to Longmont. He said, well, for the cost of gas I'll bring him up and I said you've got a deal. He's just a delightful critter. Candyman passed away last March and I attribute Candyman's long life with having to play with Chili Pepper. They are incredibly smart and incredibly human, loving creatures, which is why the miners were able to tame them so easily in the Grand Canyon and out West. They are ten times smarter than a horse.
FI: Well the next time I am out in Boulder, I will have to come meet Chili Pepper.
MM: Yeah he's adorable.