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Most people reading this probably have heard the statistic by now that one in six Americans, or 48 million people, is expected to get sick from foodborne illness each year. You also probably have a lot of questions about what federal public health agencies are doing to prevent those illnesses, and what precautions you can take to further protect yourself and your family. Read more »
The ladder used to convict Bruno Hauptmann of kidnapping is seen here in a contemporary crime-scene photograph. Scientists at the Forest Products Laboratory were able to prove that one of the steps used in the ladder was from a plank of wood in Hauptmann’s attic. Forest Service photo.
In the early 1930’s, before the age of DNA and forensics, piecing together the evidence of a crime scene was a difficult task involving fingerprints (if you could get them), eyewitness accounts (if there were any), or a confession (not likely). Law enforcement had none of these as they tried to convict Bruno Hauptmann, the man they believed was guilty of what was then being called the “crime of the century”– the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby.
It was amid this national media frenzy that the U.S. Forest Service Forest Products Lab would in many ways introduce the concept of forensics into crime solving. Read more »
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. Read more »
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. Read more »
Colorized SEM (scanning electron micrograph) of the foodborne pathogen Salmonella enteritidis. Photo by Jean Guard, ARS.
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research profile.
When it comes to microorganisms that contaminate our foods, you may think it’s a veritable jungle out there—but in fact, in the United States, most of the illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths caused by foodborne pathogens come down to 14 bad players. Read more »
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. Read more »