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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Faces of Food Safety: Pam Ogasawara Defines Dedication

While Pam Ogasawara, a senior staff officer in OFO’s Recall Management and Technical Analysis Staff, has donned so many hats in her 28 years with FSIS, it’s hard to describe her work in just a few sentences. Currently, she is the lead on no less than 10 projects, yet she still finds time to mentor new staff and volunteer in her community. She is the epitome of a dedicated public servant.Pam Ogasawara

When asked why she does all the things that she does, Ogasawara responded, “I feel that it’s my duty to help others!” she said. “My ancestors were interned in Japanese internment camps during World War II here in the United States and they weren’t always treated well in those camps, but they endured and persevered. I am a part of that heritage, and I have to give and help others because I am able,” she explained. “And I love my job at FSIS because I think it’s important to the nation, and I know what I do helps to keep American families safe.”

In her years at FSIS, Ogasawara’s chief responsibilities include being the national coordinator for the Cooperative Interstate Shipment program, which grants certain small and very small state-inspected establishments to transport meat and poultry products into interstate commerce. She also assists with the Talmadge-Aiken program, which allows the use of state inspectors, instead of federal inspectors, in federally inspected establishments. “These programs are very important to the agency because it builds on our partnership with state officials,” she explained. “It also puts in place a standard operating practice in these establishments that is comparable to FSIS’. It’s a win-win for FSIS and the states.”

Some of her other duties consist of keeping FSIS plant employees informed of any changes to the agency’s regulations, notices or directives. For example, changes could affect the way a sample is taken or processed. Ogasawara schedules regular conference calls and webinars with OFO employees, which include frontline supervisors, enforcement investigations and analysis officers and district case specialists. “These meetings are very important because they give information directly to our boots-on-the-ground employees,” Ogasawara said. “Our program experts speak at these meetings. They address issues that employees have and respond to questions.”

Reducing Salmonella

One of Ogasawara’s most important responsibilities is being a member of the agency’s Strategic Performance Working Group on Salmonella, which focuses on a series of activities on identifying potential interventions to decrease FSIS-attributable salmonellosis. Currently, Pam and other members of the working group are designing and developing a baseline study for Salmonella in Not-Ready-to-Eat comminuted poultry.

"...I love my job at FSIS because I think it’s important to the nation, and I know what I do helps to keep American families safe."

Pam Ogasawara

“Being part of the working group is really important to me because reducing Salmonella is part of the agency’s yearly goal. If I can keep just one person from contracting salmonellosis, then all my hard work would have made a difference. I would be satisfied!” she declared.

Emergency Support Function

Another responsibility is being the lead for the agency’s Emergency Support Function #11 Red Team 1 where Ogasawara helps to head up the agency’s mission of protecting public health if a natural or manmade disaster should occur.  The 10-person team is ready to activate and deploy at a moment’s notice. They train every other month so they are prepared to rendezvous at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Response Coordination Center should a tragedy occur anywhere in the nation, American Samoa, Guam or Puerto Rico. “My team’s role in these situations is to provide FSIS expertise and ensure that the continuity of the agency’s food safety policies and regulations are in place,” Ogasawara said.

Mentoring Others

Although Ogasawara has a full workload, she still finds time to be a mentor to OFO field employees who are on detail to OFO offices at headquarters. “I provide new employees as much help as they need when they come on board,” Ogasawara said. “There’s always a learning curve when someone is new, so I try to alleviate some of their stress by being as helpful as possible. That could include something as small as showing them where the cafeteria is to assisting on them on their first project.”

Pam Ogasawara

Ogasawara recalls when she first arrived in the agency, so many years ago; she was mentored herself and is only doing what she learned. “I only have a few years left before I will be retiring, and I feel that it’s my responsibility--and every other seasoned FSIS employees’ duty--to mentor and train the next group of agency leaders” she said. “Giving of my time, knowledge and skills to new employees is one of the key ways I know that continuity in my areas of expertise will continue. My goal, and hopefully theirs is as well, is to continue to move the agency forward during my time with FSIS.”

Helping Others

In her hours off, Ogasawara volunteers by conducting food drives for the Feds Feed Families campaign and by participating in the agency’s Combined Federal Campaign activities. She also gives her time to endangered creatures. For more than 30 years, she has adopted and supported endangered manatees in Florida, nene birds in Hawaii, musk oxen in Alaska and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in Texas. “These animals are special to me because they could die out and be forgotten. I don’t want that to happen,” she said. “The tragedy that occurred to my people from 1942-1946 must not be forgotten either.”

Last Modified Oct 17, 2016