Faces of Food Security: Meet Sheila McMillan of FSIS|Food Security News

Editor’s note: This is a recent installment in < a href= "http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/informational/aboutfsis/faces-of-food-safety" > a series of worker profiles publishedby the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service, republished here with consent.

In 1985, Sheila McMillan finished from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition. Two years later on, working at differing jobs unassociated to her degree and enjoying her liberty from the rigors of higher education, McMillan’s parents, Nelson (a U.S. postal staff member) and Angelee (a federal clerk typist), asked her about her strategies for the future. Her mom advised the more youthful McMillan offer the civil service a shot.

McMillan considered her alternatives. She could pursue a financially rewarding career in the private market, or she could work in the general public sector as a federal worker and enhance the lives of the American people. McMillan picked the latter. She saw a posting for a food technologist with FSIS’ Office of Field Operations (OFO). “After reading the task description, I knew FSIS was the career course for me. In short, I had found my dream task,” McMillan said. “The statement had whatever I was trying to find in a task. Primarily, I would be accountable for ensuring that food is produced safely, legally, and is the quality the item declared.”

Making use of experience
3 decades later on, McMillan is still in OFO, however is now an enforcement, investigations and analysis officer (EIAO) in Oak Park, Michigan. As an EIAO, her tasks include a range of in-plant jobs and verification functions, to consist of carrying out food security evaluations (which identifies the adequacy of the plants’ food security systems) and validating that business can produce safe, wholesome products per regulative requirements. She also examines Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures to guarantee facilities’ equipment is clean and safe to utilize for food production, and examines Threat Analysis and Crucial Control Points (HACCP) strategies. McMillan said these plans are “ground absolutely no” in avoiding, lowering and eliminating determined food safety threats.

“My job is to make certain clinical, technical or regulatory files support all choices made within the food system and each plant should stick to those requirements. That’s where HACCP plans come into play,” McMillan stated. “Establishments can write beautiful plans, however if they stop working to execute them correctly, then the strategies do not serve their purpose. I evaluate these strategies to make sure they are sound and scientifically based; recognize the establishments’ biological, chemical and physical risks; and guarantee that the plans are implemented effectively. These are critical steps in avoiding foodborne health problems and threats.”

To do her job efficiently, McMillan draws from her well of experiences, her investigative capabilities and her “sixth sense.”

“I have a tool bag loaded with farm-to-consumer knowledge that I draw from every day,” she stated. “My investigative skills can be found in useful when I’m performing recall effectiveness checks at stores and restaurants making sure that items associated with recalls have been eliminated from commerce. Those skills combined with my instinct enters into play to spot red flags. If a facility is cooking a lot of product, and I understand they do not have the freezer area for cooling it all, the hairs on the back of my neck start to stand up. I’ll inspect their records, and if they are pristine, revealing that the item is cooling as it ought to be, I follow my impulses and put in the time to do some investigating. More times than not, my instincts are right.”

Bridging the gap
McMillan considers herself an ambassador for FSIS since she guarantees customers are safe from buying potentially harmful or damaging products. She moves details from the district workplace to facilities and back again. She likewise assists plant owners when concerns develop.

“Typically, issues are discovered throughout a food safety assessment,” McMillan said. “I exist, together with the frontline supervisors, to talk the plant owner below the proverbial ledge and to describe FSIS’ regulatory procedure. I feel that it’s my job to assist them discover options to their concerns, which might vary from a labeling problem to finding the holes in their HACCP strategies. I see us as partners, and without USDA, I wouldn’t have had this chance to make a distinction.”

She likewise extends her ambassador tasks to FSIS workers and credits to the Company’s i-Impact effort for being the driver.

“As an i-Impact fitness instructor, I assist in interaction with in-plant personnel and let them understand that what they do every day, whatever the function, does make a distinction in the world of food safety,” McMillan said. “I’m simply so delighted I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of the program.”

Adventurer and household lady
McMillan is an avid traveler and wants to one day check out Arizona, Colorado and Paris. She also enjoys costs time with household and hanging out with her mother, whom she affectionately calls her “going shopping buddy.”

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