Practical Tips From “Dr. Doom and Ms. Gloom”

Meet “Dr. Doom” and “Ms. Gloom”

“Dr. Doom”

Mixed in with the attorneys at OFW Law is the former USDA Food Safety Inspection Service’s (FSIS) Administrator, Dr. Barbara Masters.  Dr. Masters is a veterinarian who spent eighteen years with FSIS – the final three years as Acting Administrator and Administrator.  During her rise to the Administrator’s position, Dr. Masters served as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Office of Field Operations.  While in these key leadership positions at FSIS, Dr. Masters’ primary focus was on the implementation of science-based policies for the protection of public health.  Dr. Masters issued the initial Federal Register Notices for a systematic approach to humane treatment of livestock and poultry.

Dr. Masters was involved in the drafting of the training of inspection personnel on the Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP) regulations.  She was the lead of the FSIS HACCP Hotline.  In addition, Dr. Masters provided technical review for establishment’s hazard analysis, HACCP plans and supporting documentation.  She started her career at FSIS as a public health veterinarian that had responsibilities for ante-mortem inspection, sanitation inspection and all post-mortem inspection responsibilities.  She has a good understanding of what happens at the in-plant location, because she has spent many of long days working there.

“Ms. Gloom”

In the attorney ranks at OFW Law, there is only one attorney who would raise a hand if all were asked if they had any “hands-on” experience in the operation of a Townsend “Frank-O-Matic” hotdog maker, producing bean sprouts for use in egg rolls or in managing a food facility sanitation crew.  In fact, there are probably no attorneys out there who could raise their hands except Jolyda Swaim.

Prior to law school and OFW Law, Ms. Swaim spent years in the food industry, beginning as a microbiologist and Quality Assurance technician.  In these years, she had direct charge of quality assurance, production, sanitation and consumer affair departments at various companies producing products from pickles, sauerkraut and barbeque sauce, to various meat and poultry products, to frozen entrees, egg rolls and pizza to spices and spice blends.  Her last position at Sara Lee as Director of Food Safety had her auditing its facilities in the United States and Mexico to ensure facilities producing ready-to-eat products were following best practices in sanitation and product handling.

“Dr. Doom” and “Ms. Gloom”

Because of their backgrounds, many OFW Law clients have asked Dr. Masters and Ms. Swaim to visit their facilities to do a risk assessment and provide feedback on what the company can do to be better prepared for a regulatory audit from USDA-FSIS or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  During these visits, programs such as HACCP and related food safety program records are reviewed, production is watched, and sanitation is also observed to determine its effectiveness.

In providing information to companies on improvements needed, this team of Dr. Masters and Ms. Swaim became known as “Dr. Doom” and “Ms. Gloom,” as companies would tell their employees that if the advice was not taken, a regulatory audit may have dire consequences!  But, if changes were made, a facility should be able to meet any regulators’ most intensive scrutiny!

In the hundreds of facilities reviewed by Dr. Masters and Ms. Swaim and the thousands of pages of various programs, procedures and records reviewed as well as developed, they have seen a number of common errors made by companies which regulatory auditors for either FSIS or the FDA would document as a deficiency.  To assist companies in their efforts to continuously improve, “Dr. Doom” and “Ms. Gloom” have agreed to share “Practice Tips” on a regular basis via this blog in the hopes that even one company out there can use one of the tips to prevent the documentation of a deficiency by a regulatory agency or – even more important – to improve its food safety program.

In the meantime, do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions or concerns.

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