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.
Dr. Suresh Dua is a supervisory public health veterinarian (SPHV) and 39-year FSIS employee in the Raleigh district. Dua credits his longevity in the agency to his parents and to his tenacity in learning as much as he could about microbiology, bacteriology and epidemiology.
“Knowledge is very important to me and my parents taught me from a very young age, growing up in the Mhow district of Indore, India, that having an education helps you become independent,” Dua said.
Dua pursued his higher education, earning a Bachelor of Veterinarian Science in Animal Husbandry in 1965, and a Master of Veterinary Microbiology from Agra University in 1967. He chose these fields of study because he wanted to identify causes of foodborne illness with, hopes of curtailing it.
“I studied microbiology, a science that studies extremely small forms of life such as bacteria and viruses; bacteriology, which is the study of bacteria; and epidemiology, which is the study and analysis of the patterns, causes and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations. These are the three scientific approaches to identifying, understanding and hopefully preventing human foodborne-related illnesses and hazards,” Dua said.
His parents believed that attending an American university would help their son obtain his goal of earning a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. With their encouragement, Dua immigrated to the United States in 1972 and landed in his new hometown, Buffalo, NY. To Dua, Buffalo was a large city with foreign weather, and the living conditions were strange to him.
“The first week I arrived in the U.S., it snowed,” Dua said. “I didn’t like the cold of New York, my run-down apartment or the 40-minute bus ride to and from my job at the University of New York at Buffalo.”
After a year of work, Dua found his way back to what he loved — learning. He fulfilled his dream in 1978, when he earned a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Minnesota’s School of Veterinary Medicine.
That same year, Dua obtained a position at FSIS as a veterinary medical officer (VMO) in DeKalb, IL. In the years that followed, he assumed roles as a supervisory VMO, staff officer, international affairs coordinator and district epidemiology officer. Since 2004, he has been in his current role as an SPHV in Mt. Airy, MD, a city with less than 10,000 residents. Dua explains how his nearly four decades in the agency play a role today.
“I was fortunate enough to work in three different levels of the Agency over the years. I’ve been on the inspection line, in the district office and at the headquarters level. It has offered me a broad view of FSIS,” Dua said.
“All that experience is contributing to my performance in my current role as a supervisor of five consumer safety inspectors, who are assigned to nine very small red meat and poultry establishments. These establishments produce different products, such as sausages, smoked bacon, fully cooked hams, breakfast loafs, beef jerky and poultry. I’ve worked with each of these products in the past.”
As an SPHV, Dua is responsible for enforcing federal meat and poultry inspection procedures on a daily basis. This includes responsibilities associated with live animal handling, including humane slaughter oversight, as well as overseeing inspection procedures throughout the entire establishment, including processing operations. His actions help ensure a safe food supply for consumers.
Aug. 26, 2018, will mark Dua’s 40th year of service. He has no plans to retire, but looking back he says: “I really have enjoyed my career with FSIS. It has been my pleasure to work with different supervisors as they have been helpful in guiding me and keeping the focus on the Agency’s objective: protecting the public’s health by ensuring the safety of meat, poultry and processed egg products. I enjoyed working for them, although, many of them have retired. I’m not ready to leave though because I still haven’t completed my mission in FSIS.”
Dua and his wife Nisha, have two sons, three grandsons and a granddaughter. Dua loves watching his grandchildren practice and play in basketball tournaments.
To keep himself fit, he takes early morning and evening walks. He enjoys Bollywood movies, and watching football — the American version — including the Super Bowl. Of all the sports, Dua enjoys cricket most.
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