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.

FSIS is more than just a career for Consumer Safety Inspector Raynetta Jackson: It is a second home where her colleagues are considered family. Jackson is constantly looking out for her co-workers by making sure they have the resources they need. She is also always willing to lend a helping hand to her “family” at Establishment P-7927, a poultry slaughter and processing facility in Hurlock, MD.

Consumer Safety Inspector Raynetta Jackson of the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service performs an ante-mortem inspection on poultry.
Photo courtesy of USDA

Jackson, a Maryland native and lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan, has dedicated the past 27 years to food safety by working for FSIS. Her food safety expertise goes back even further, as Jackson worked in food safety on the production line of a poultry production facility before joining FSIS.

When speaking about her long career with the Agency, Jackson said, “I love my job and knowing that at the end of the day, my decisions contribute to someone else’s well-being keeps me motivated and proud to come to work every day.”

Jackson’s day is filled with two primary duties. One is being a verification inspector of carcasses that are on and off the line. The other is ensuring that the poultry products that she is charged with inspecting are unadulterated, free of fecal matter, wholesome and ultimately suitable for human consumption. When not actively on the production line, Jackson monitors other areas throughout the plant.

Education is Essential
Jackson tries to take advantage of every bit of training that FSIS offers. She attributes much of her success in the agency to this and strongly encourages all new FSIS employees to do the same.

“I tell my team all the time that furthering their education is an essential component to empowerment, which is one of FSIS’ core values. And I personally appreciated the i-Impact training because it gave me a sense of value of just how important I am to the mission,” Jackson said.

“Throughout my 27-year career at FSIS, I have had the opportunity to access many valuable training programs that have enhanced my knowledge of the job. Being able to access a multitude of courses in AgLearn — not just the mandatory ones — has been an awesome learning resource. I can’t say it to them enough, but training not only allows us to be more competent in performing current duties, but also prepares us for higher level positions within the agency.”

Jackson also advises new staff members to never shy away from asking questions.

“I tell everyone to value their peers because they can be exceptional resources,” said Jackson.

“I’ve absorbed an impressive amount of FSIS knowledge from asking questions of my co-workers and questioning how and why things are done in a certain way. Information obtained from those conversations has given me a better understand the Agency’s processes.”

FSIS ‘family’ fun
Jackson said the FSIS team at Establishment P-7927 is often complimented on their teamwork by Dr. Ahmad Jilani, the plant’s supervisory public health veterinarian. Jackson attributes this success in part to monthly luncheons with the whole team.

“Our get-togethers build morale and foster positive work relationships,” Jackson said. “I organize these gatherings and painstakingly check everyone’s leave schedules to make sure everyone will be able to take part.”

At these luncheons, each person brings in a unique dish that fits the month’s planned theme to share with the team.

“We share some awesome meals together, watch ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ and laugh so much. It’s really a fun time,” Jackson said.

Jackson has also made food safety a family value in her own home. She has passed on the importance of FSIS’ four food safety messages — clean, separate, cook and chill — to her four children and eight grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In fact, her two youngest sons use her passed-on knowledge in a professional capacity every day: They are both restaurant managers.

When she is not protecting the American public from foodborne illnesses, Jackson spends much of her time on her other passion—photography. She says, “Pictures are your memories. They serve as a link back to all the wonderful people I’ve met and the places I’ve been to. It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it.”

In the near future, Jackson will be returning to school to finish her degree in medical technology with plans to one day work in a laboratory conducting research.

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