Abena Foli was born and raised in Ghana until 2006, when she immigrated to the US. Her passion for food comes from her farmer-father who taught her how to blend spices, and how to cook. Since high school, Abena has been passionate about combining her love for food, with her love for the sciences. This led her to pursue her Master’s degree in Food Science specializing in Food Safety Microbiology, after her Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. She has over 8 years practical food industry experience, starting off as a product developer, and subsequently transitioning to food labeling compliance and regulatory affairs.

Abena’s work experiences exposed her to the gap of authentic West African retail products, excellently packaged in formats relatable to the American home cook standards, and complaint with the US FDA labeling regulations. This led her to start POKS Spices in 2016 to help Americans Discover FlavorFULL Goodness of the bold flavors of West Africa via Spicy Authentic West African Seasonings. Leveraging her food science expertise and using her family recipes, the spicy seasonings are locally made in Texas using ingredients familiar to the American home cook, but blended to give that Authentic Spicy West African flavor profile.

In 2017, POKS Spices was honored as one of the top 100 businesses in the FedEX Small Business Grant Program. Also, in 2017 and 2019, POKS Spices Seasonings won awards at the Zest Fest Fiery Food Challenge Competitions. The Institute of Food Technologists recognized Abena as part of its Emerging Leaders Network 2019 cohort class for dynamic, high potential, talented, and passionate food professionals. In January 2021, Abena started a consulting practice to help make the US FDA Food Labeling Regulations easy to understand, and to comply with, for small businesses with food products for retail.

Follow Abena and her work online:
Instagram: @poksspices
Spices: www.poksspices.com 
Consulting / Food Labeling Course: www.folifoodconsult.com
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Item 13 Ep 58

Photo Courtesy of Abena Foli

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