Faces of Food Safety: Joseph Woltz III
Ask Joseph Woltz III what is the most rewarding part of his career, and his answer is simple and matter of fact: "What could be more rewarding than a career where your daily grind is protecting people from foodborne illnesses?"
Woltz's "daily grind" is a lot different than the one he originally planned. When he was young, he said he always thought he would become a teacher. But instead of going into education, he took up the "family" business: the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Woltz is a Compliance Investigator. In this capacity, he conducts and takes part in surveillance and enforcement activities and performs other investigative duties to protect the nation's meat, poultry and processed egg supply from his base in Chicago, Ill. At FSIS, he joined his father, who works as an inspector in Buffalo, N.Y., along with his brother, Mark, a Consumer Safety Inspector (CSI). Another brother, Joshua, works as a CSI in Cleveland, Ohio.
"Holidays are a lot of fun for us," said Woltz. "We all get together and talk about work." His father, who has worked for FSIS for 39 years, has never grown tired of his job, and although miles and a time zone separate the father and son, Woltz said he relies on the senior Woltz's wisdom and expertise. "My father knows policies and he has seen almost everything. When I have a question about an investigation or I have a problem, I call him first."
And while Woltz has been able to take advantage of his father's experience and wisdom, there is one thing that even his father had never heard of: chocolate-covered bacon. One of Woltz's encounters on the job, he said, was an investigation that revealed that the bacon included in a product should have been USDA inspected. "It all started while I was reading the Sunday paper and saw an advertisement for chocolate-covered bacon," said Woltz, who first thought the candy crunch bar was bacon-flavored. "I bought a 3 oz. bar and realized that it was real bacon. After initiating an investigation, the portion of the facility that produced the bacon bar suspended production while FSIS further investigated. It was later determined that inspection was required and the company came under compliance."
"What could be more rewarding than a career where your daily grind is protecting people from foodborne illnesses?"
Joseph Woltz III
Whether it is investigating chocolate-covered bacon or making sure other products are safe and wholesome as they enter commerce, Woltz said there is "never a dull moment" on the job and his job always makes for lively discussions around the dinner table.
"I love this job and I get so excited about what I do. You should ask my wife. She would tell you that I can't stop talking about my job because I love what I do."
So, what's next for Woltz, who said he has aspirations of working in Washington, D.C.? "I couldn't be happier. Right now, my focus is on my current duties and how I can better serve the American people."