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faces of food safety

The Food Safety and Inspection Service's Mission in Action: Meet CSIs Toot, Curb and Carson

FSIS Consumer Safety Inspectors (CSIs) Anthony Carson, Rick Toot, and Rosalinda Curb are just a few of the exemplary FSIS employees who work hard every day to protect public health and ensure the humane treatment of livestock presented for slaughter.

Anthony Carson, a CSI in the Dallas district, contributes greatly to enforcing humane handling policy at the cull cattle plant where he works.

The oldest son of a small-town veterinarian, Carson has worked with cattle for as long as he can remember. Carson's father has been his greatest influence. "Dad gave me that love of animal husbandry, instilled in me a strong work ethic, and showed me the importance of constant self-improvement."

Interpreting Data to Modernize Food Safety: Meet Dr. Joanna Zablotsky Kufel

Dr. Joanna Zablotsky Kufel discovered community and public health at Tufts University in Massachusetts. Afterwards, she worked in public health for a couple of years and then moved to Baltimore, Md., where she earned her Masters in 2003 and Ph.D. in 2009 at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “After learning all about food safety at the state and local level, I still wanted to learn more about food safety at the federal level, where you can influence food safety throughout the entire food chain,” said Dr. Zablotsky Kufel.

Dr. Zablotsky Kufel began her career with USDA as a summer intern working for the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS). Today she works as a Public Health Food Safety Analyst with FSIS, analyzing data from across FSIS gathered by inspectors in the field, and partner agencies to evaluate FSIS policies and performance. The analyses performed and reports produced allow FSIS to effectively use science and data to understand foodborne illness and emerging trends, respond to those risks and ensure that food safety inspection aligns with decreasing those risks.

Meet Mark Underberg, Meat and Poultry Import Inspector

Integrity. It is a word to live by. And Mark Underberg, an import inspector with the Import Inspection Division in the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) Office of International Affairs, takes it seriously. “Your decisions have to be fair and consistent,” he says. “And once you have a solid decision, you stand by it.” It is this same integrity that has driven Underberg throughout his life. 

Meet Program Specialist Natasha Williams

“The great thing about working in FSIS is that no day is exactly the same. There are so many initiatives that are important to both employees and stakeholders,” says Program Specialist Natasha Williams.

Committed to Food Safety: Meet Supervisory Veterinary Medical Officer Dr. Douglas Fulnechek

FSIS is the largest employer of veterinarians in the United States, consisting of 1,100 dedicated Public Health Veterinarians (PHV) who are trained in public health and regulatory medicine. These veterinarians verify the health of the animals destined for the food supply. Dr. Douglas Fulnechek is one of these veterinarians.

Meet Michelle Cox, Face of Food Safety

Growing up, all Michelle Cox could think about was being a teacher. She envisioned herself in a classroom making a lasting impact on young lives, becoming one of those teachers students would remember forever.

Today, Cox is making a significant contribution as a teacher, but her students are not in the classroom. They are her colleagues within the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Office of Field Operations. Cox is a Supervisory Consumer Safety Inspector (SCSI), and her job involves supervising and training new meat, poultry and egg products inspectors. A SCSI also performs a variety of food inspection activities, but it is the instruction aspect that has most captured Cox’s heart.

“This is one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had,” Cox said.

In Good Faith and Good Humor, the Rev. Nonnie Holliman Keeps America’s Food Supply Safe

Most mornings, the Rev. Nonnie Holliman is awake at 3:30 a.m. to begin looking after a group that means a great deal to him—you and your family. In addition to leading Faith Tabernacle Christian Center in Syracuse, N.Y., Holliman works 12-hour shifts as a Consumer Safety Inspector at a nearby meat and poultry processing plant. In this capacity, he provides the first line of defense against diseased or adulterated food reaching store shelves.

CSI’s are in meat and poultry plants every single day that they operate. They observe plant employees, take microbiological samples, and examine plant records to make sure firms are following federal regulations and creating safe and wholesome products for people to enjoy.

“I work every day knowing that my family and I will eat the food that we inspect, and I am sure that I speak for other inspectors in saying that our work matters,” he said.

Food Safety Gets Personal: Meet FSIS Veterinarian Dr. Regina Tan

Dr. Regina Tan says three words best describe her work at USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service: “I save lives.” As Director of the Applied Epidemiology Division for FSIS’s Office of Public Health Science, Dr. Tan and her staff are responsible for detecting health hazards in food, like disease-causing bacteria, allergens, strange objects, or diseases humans can catch from animals.

“This job is very personal to me. I have a son who depends on me to make sure he is safe. I think of this work by putting the faces of my family to it,” Dr. Tan has said.

Meet Olga Morales: A “Good Egg” Inspector Now Cracking Food Safety Cases

Olga Morales admits she is kind of a workaholic.

Two decades ago, Olga Morales worked inside an egg products plant in Elizabeth, N.J., inspecting food to make sure it was safe for the public to purchase and to eat. Today, after rising through the ranks at the Food Safety and Inspection Service, she works at a desk job in Washington, D.C., where she investigates food safety violations by meat, poultry and egg products companies.

Despite the changes in her work environment between then and now, Olga feels the same excitement when she goes to work every morning as she did 20 years ago. “I am proud of my work, and I want everyone to know that,” she said.

Born and raised in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, Olga knew when she was 5 years old that she wanted a career where she could help people and “make a difference” in their lives. It was in high school that her interest in science grew and she had the opportunity to do well in her favorite subjects—anything related to science. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology from the InterAmerican University in Puerto Rico, she began her federal career with the U.S. Department of Defense working as a health technician and held other health-related jobs in the private sector.

April’s Face of Food Safety Has Heart: Meet Veterinarian Dr. Nancy Atkins

Dr. Nancy Atkins’ devotion to animals is deep-rooted and widespread. She says she knew she wanted to be a veterinarian before she even knew what a veterinarian was, and now she oversees the welfare of poultry and livestock across ten states. Dr. Atkins is a District Veterinary Medical Specialist at the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which means she applies her compassion and 40 years of veterinary experience to make sure the animals intended for food in the western United States are handled humanely.

Dr. Atkins admits her job is tough, but she considers her position “the best job in the agency.” She is inspired by Dr. Temple Grandin, a fellow veterinarian and animal welfare advocate whose work continues to influence the way FSIS views animal handling. Dr. Atkins’ philosophy is, “Be vigilant and diligent. Animals are giving up their lives for us and they should be treated with the greatest respect and kindness under these circumstances.”