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Faces of food safety: Meet Andrew Lino of FSIS

Editor’s note: This is a recent installment in a series of employee profiles being published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service, republished here with permission.

Andrew Lino is a consumer safety inspector (CSI) whose assignment covers four establishments, two processing plants and two export facilities in the Long Beach, CA, Circuit.

Prior to working for FSIS, Lino was an assistant production supervisor at Establishment G-1340, an egg processing establishment in Los Angeles. This position prepared him to understand the importance of food safety and to understand what is required for an establishment to be compliant with FSIS regulations.

While working at the egg processing facility, Lino observed the USDA Inspector in Charge (IIC) monitor egg processing of both liquid and whole eggs, as well as perform inspections of the establishment’s equipment and sanitary conditions. The IIC at the plant described how all the processes are critical to make sure each product is wholesome for the public to use rather than adulterated. This information motivated Lino to decide to apply for a food inspector position with FSIS. Although Lino was hired as a food inspector in September 2002, he had to wait for an opening and did not actually begin working for FSIS until January 2003.

Inspector Andrew Lino collects a sample of ground meat for testing. photo courtesy of USDA

As a CSI, Lino’s daily duties consist of ensuring that each of the establishments he covers are producing safe and wholesome product. He verifies that the equipment and facility are clean and sanitary, the product is produced and handled in a sanitary manner and the product testing records — which include testing results for E. coli and Listeria — are well maintained.

A typical work day involves verifying the establishments’ supporting documents, sanitation, production and product testing records. Lino observes how the establishment employees handle and produce the product to make sure all the processes are being completed as described in the establishment’s sanitation and HACCP programs. He also checks that the product is properly labeled prior to being shipped into commerce.

“My job is very important to FSIS and USDA, but most importantly to the consumer because I am part of the first line of defense in preventing foodborne illness and adulterated product from getting into commerce and reaching the consumer,” Lino said.

Teamwork is also very important. Teamwork is critical when inspectors encounter situations or issues that are unfamiliar and communication is necessary to reach the proper solution. When inspectors need assistance with coverage of establishments on assignments, they work cooperatively to make sure coverage is provided.

Lino says “My co-workers are great individuals that respect one another and perform their job to the best of each one’s capability. They are a great group of people to be around.”

In July 2016, in connection with the “i-Impact” employee engagement initiative, FSIS suggested all employees send in a “selfie” video to tell how they impact food safety. Lino, along with other FSIS employees, responded to the call and provided “selfie” videos.

“Performing my duties gives me a sense of pride and comfort that I am impacting the safety of the Nation’s food supply in a positive manner to help prevent someone from getting sick or possibly dying. I get a sense of enjoyment and pride that I am making sure the public consumer is receiving safe, wholesome product from the establishment that I cover,” Lino said.

The individual selfies were compiled into one video and was first shown at the August 2016 Diversity Conference. Because the compilation video was well received, the video is now an optional component of the 2017 i-Impact presentation and is a required component of the i-Impact presentation for new employees during onboarding.

Lino also enjoys spending time with friends and discussing with them the importance of food safety. He reminds them to make sure their meats are cooked thoroughly in order to prevent illness from pathogen growth and how pathogens can be harmful, and telling them how FSIS has a daily presence at inspection and processing establishments, or discussing how and why the products FSIS inspects were recalled.

Lino, a California native, married his best friend, Rosemary, and they have four daughters. When he and his family go to the store he reminds them of the four steps to food safety: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill. Lino attended East Los Angeles Community College and Cerritos Community College, and expects to return to college to complete his degree in accounting. In his spare time he likes to exercise, and volunteers to coach his daughters’ soccer and basketball teams.

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