Parting words from Dr. Carl Winter

Dr. Carl Winter

Dr. Carl Winter, Specialist in Cooperative Extension and Vice Chair of this Department, is retiring from UC Davis at the end of June, 2019 after 28 years with the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology, and 32 years with the University of California. 

His work at UCD has focused on the detection of pesticides and naturally-occurring toxins in foods, how to assess their risks and identify how to use the science in the regulatory decision-making process. His most recent research includes looking at the relationships between crop production systems and naturally-occurring toxins. And he will always be known (and appreciated!) for improving educational activities through incorporation of music into food safety curricula.

We asked him a few questions prior to his retirement about his time at UC Davis.


FST: Tell us about how you felt when you first started with the Department.

Carl Winter: I was excited to join the Food Science and Technology Department after four years in the Entomology Department at UC Riverside.  My focus had shifted quite a bit from environmental toxicology to food toxicology and I was looking forward to joining great colleagues working specifically with food.

FST: What are some major accomplishments you achieved while at UCD?

Carl Winter: It’s hard to pinpoint specific accomplishments.  What I am really pleased about have been the opportunities to constantly reshape my program to meet new challenges.  I evolved from being a bioanalytical toxicologist to a risk assessor and risk communicator, and have had the chance to look at a wide variety of food contaminants including pesticides, plant toxins, mycotoxins, and metals.  Teaching the year-round graduate student course in communication skills has sharpened my own skills as well as providing me opportunities to publish work in this area and to give “presentation presentations” at a variety of conferences and gatherings.

FST: What are you most proud of?

Carl Winter: I still have a hard time believing that my most notable career accomplishment has been the development of my food safety music and using the music for educational purposes.  I started this work from scratch in 1996 with no expectations and somehow watched it grow into a career-defining program that generated significant publicity and reached millions of people throughout the world.  I believe I’ve given nearly 300 live musical performances in 37 states, have distributed nearly 30,000 audio CDs and animated video DVDs, and my YouTube page ( has now logged more than one million views.  I’ve been recognized for this work with several awards, a federal grant to study the impact of incorporating music into food safety educational curricula, and have published three papers demonstrating that the music positively impacts the understanding of food safety.  While the music may have overshadowed some of my other career accomplishments, it’s still been a great ride.

FST: What will you do in retirement?

Carl Winter: I’ll keep playing music in Sacramento area bands and possibly expand my music activities.  I’m also excited about traveling throughout the world with my wife Robin, and I’ll be looking for suitable local service activities to get involved in.  I’ll still keep busy as a scientist as I am chairing a task force for the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology looking at chemical residues in food.  I’ll plan to accept the occasional speaking invitation, particularly if the event is held in a nice place!

FST: What will you miss about being at UCD?

Carl Winter: I’ll miss interacting with faculty, staff, and students the most.  We have developed a wonderful, supportive, and collegial culture in the Department of Food Science and Technology that would be difficult to find in other campus departments or in other Universities.  It is no surprise that our department is one of the top food science departments in the world given the level of talent and culture that has been established.

FST: What else would you like folks to know?

Carl Winter: It has been a great privilege to have had the opportunity to work for the University for 32 years and for the Department of Food Science and Technology for the past 28.  I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience a “career” rather than simply holding down a “job.”


Best of luck to you Carl!

To read more about Dr. Winter's career, read this article from the University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources.