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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: Lucy Touhey - Ensuring FSIS is Always Ready

Lucy TouheyAs part of FSIS’ mission to protect public health, the Agency must be ready and able to respond to significant food emergencies, such as large-scale food contamination or natural disasters that affect meat, poultry and processed egg products.

In the event of such an emergency, the Office of Data Integration and Food Protection’s (ODIFP) Emergency Coordination Staff (ECS) facilitates FSIS’ response and recovery efforts and works with other agencies to provide a coordinated response to the event.

Lucy Touhey, a Senior Emergency Response Specialist with ECS, plays a big role in FSIS’ efforts to be prepared for an emergency. She is the administrator for the FSIS Incident Management System (FIMS), a web-based system that allows FSIS to manage and track significant incidents in real time. FIMS gives the Agency tools to respond to an ongoing event and captures information that helps FSIS adapt and prepare for similar events in the future.

“A significant incident can be something as simple as an ammonia leak in a facility or theft of product from a trailer to something major like a natural disaster that affects multiple states,” Touhey said.

As a duty officer, Touhey manages significant incidents reported through FIMS and prepares reports detailing the impact of a situation on FSIS facilities and personnel. She prepares maps that help determine what facilities could be impacted by an event such as a hurricane or chemical spill, and designs and conducts exercises to test and improve FSIS’ procedures for incident response.

" I really enjoy working with my friends in the field to ensure that the Agency’s response goes right when things are going wrong."

Lucy Touhey

Touhey also works with the Emergency Management Committee (EMC), which consists of personnel from each program area with the authority to commit resources as necessary in response to an incident. “The EMC is only activated for incidents that involve a special policy question, need a special commitment of resources for response or have unique questions that need discussion from the program areas,” Touhey said.

Touhey began working for FSIS 20 years ago as a secretary with the Egg Products Inspection Division. She spent several years with the Office of Field Operations (OFO). “My time with OFO provided me with great opportunities for growth and I am able to adapt many of the skills I learned there in my position as an Emergency Response Specialist,” Touhey said. “I love that I have the opportunity to work with so many great people from around the Agency. I really enjoy working with my friends in the field to ensure that the Agency’s response goes right when things are going wrong. We have some great and very dedicated people in FSIS.”

Touhey believes that employees should be open to new challenges. Shortly after joining FSIS, her supervisor asked her to do label reviews and approvals for egg products while another employee was on leave. “It was a great opportunity to learn, and I haven’t said no to an opportunity since,” Touhey said.Lucy Touhey

Outside of FSIS, Touhey is an avid reader, which she believes helps with her job. Several years ago, she read that some alcohol swabs were recalled because of bacterial contamination. She knew FSIS used swabs to clean thermometers in the plants. It turned out that FSIS had the recalled swabs. According to Touhey, the EMC was activated and all the swabs were pulled from FSIS supplies. “It was a great catch!” she said.

In the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, Touhey said, “I’m thankful for the opportunities that I have been presented with at FSIS and for the great people that I work with.”

Last Modified Oct 18, 2016