Editor’s note: This is a recent installment in a series of employee profiles being published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Sabrina King is an enforcement, investigations and analysis officer (EIAO), serving the Office of Field Operations (OFO) in the Atlanta district. As an EIAO, King performs food safety assessments (FSAs) in slaughter and processing facilities of various sizes.
Focusing on the design of establishments’ food safety systems and scientific support for processes and methodologies, King ensures that regulatory requirements are being met by industry, decreasing the likelihood of product contamination and/or adulteration.
“Carrying out FSAs has a positive impact on public health, because through the in-depth analysis of records, programs and written procedures, we are able to assess the safety of products produced at a particular establishment and take any action deemed necessary. This works to prevent unsafe products from entering commerce and keep the food supply safe for consumers,” King said.
King began her food safety career while still in college. She needed a job during the summer, so she took a quality control position as a “yield clerk” at a small slaughter facility. At one point during her time there she was approached by the establishment’s Inspector-in-Charge, who encouraged her to become a food inspector.
She was intrigued by the work she had observed the processing inspector perform and after doing some research she applied to work at USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. She accepted a position as a food inspector, with the intention of only staying for a year or two.
“Needless to say, I enjoyed the work within FSIS so much that after more than 18 years, I am still here,” King said.
King’s favorite part of the job is knowing that the work she does saves lives every day. She also says that having the opportunity to work with such a diverse group of colleagues, holding a variety of positions from the field to headquarters and across different program areas are reasons why she enjoys working at FSIS.
“Being able to conduct outreach sessions within the agency, as well as externally, opens the lines of communication and promotes collaboration with industry and academia. By far, having the chance to work on multiple ‘special projects’ has provided me the greatest joy and the ability to explore my talents while on the job,” King said.
As a first-time i-Impact trainer, King faced some challenges at the beginning of the training sessions, which made her skeptical, but the enthusiasm and excitement that followed at the end really motivated her.
“I knew that sharing the materials and my personal experiences had a positive effect on some of the employees,” King said.
“The emails and phone calls following the i-Impact sessions gave me such satisfaction. Having held a position as a Food Inspector made it easy for me to relate to what employees were feeling and share with them a different way of seeing things,” King said.
As a trainer, i-Impact has revealed a hidden talent that King had not noticed before, which is the ability to communicate a subject matter that might otherwise seem uninteresting, in such a way that it peaks the interest of the audience.
“As an employee, i-Impact has shown me that the agency is truly transforming. The understanding that transparency and open communication will lead to increased morale and a more positive work environment is what makes the ‘i-Impact’ concept work,” King said.
King is also a small business owner — she owns a printing, crafts and graphic design service — a caregiver of two elderly people, and a single parent with a son, a daughter and a great-nephew.
“I enjoy attending worship services, going to the race track, working around the house, and ‘flipping’ vehicles, where I buy, repair and restore and then put them up for sale. Some of my other hobbies include sewing, decorating, hair braiding, baking and crafting,” King said.
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