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Faces of Food Safety: Steven Soderborg, Jr., Teaching the Next Generation about Food Safety

Steven Soderborg is at his desk working on the Public Health Information System (PHIS) in his El Paso, Texas office.Steven Soderborg, Jr., is a consumer safety inspector (CSI) who has worked for FSIS for 15 years. But work isn’t the only place where he takes a lead role in food safety. Soderborg is also a Boy Scouts troop leader. He has to keep 15 Boy Scouts safe on camping trips. Soderborg teaches them how to keep
food safe while living outdoors.

Teaching Scouts Leads to Safer Establishment Lines

“Each day when I’m in the plants conducting pre-operation checks on equipment and making sure everything is clean and ready to go, I think of one of my Scouts,” Soderborg said. “He is deadly allergic to a certain allergen. On one occasion when we went camping, he had to eat a specific kind of bread. If he ate anything that had come in to contact with the allergen, even a microscopic amount, it would have been terrible for him. It could have made him very sick. I relate that experience to my pre-op checks; I always keep that Scout in mind because I don’t wish for him or anybody else who may have allergies to get sick because establishments’ machines weren’t cleaned properly when their products were produced. A few years ago as I was performing a general labeling verification task, I observed that a plant had not added an allergen “soy” to their label, and due to my attention to detail and concern for allergens, the product was recalled.”

The food safety tips that Soderborg teaches his troops can help them earn the Boy Scouts’ Cooking merit badge. A portion of the requirements for this badge focus on principles of food safety, like the proper preparation and storage of meat along with the prevention of Salmonella and Escherichia coli food poisoning. In 2013, FSIS helped the Boy Scouts develop the food safety portion of this badge. “I teach food safety to my Scouts, especially during camping trips where we have to keep meats, eggs, milk, juices, etc., iced (cooled) down,” Soderborg said.

Making a Difference

"I feel that by performing my job properly, I am helping fulfill FSIS’ mission...It makes me feel really good knowing that I can make a difference."

Steven Soderborg, Jr.

Soderborg works on a patrol assignment that consists of inspecting 12 processing plants and nine export ID warehouses. A big part of Soderborg’s duties is ensuring Export Health Certificates are filled out properly and products are eligible for export to Central America.

“I feel that by performing my job properly, I am helping fulfill FSIS’ mission. Products are being prepared in a clean and wholesome manner and I am verifying that ready-to-eat products are being cooked, stabilized, and stored in the proper timeframe to hopefully prevent any harmful microorganisms from growing and possibly making the consumer sick,” Soderborg said. “It makes me feel really good knowing that I can make a difference.” Soderborg’s efforts reach consumers as far away as Mexico.

Soderborg also makes a difference by helping his supervisor and co-workers, taking on more duties when needed. “I think I am dependable and a hard worker,” he said. “I am always willing to help out other inspectors, often covering other’s assignments, and drafting the WUM (work unit meeting) report.”

By preparing these reports, Soderborg said, it helps all the inspectors know what is happening on everyone’s assignments. “Communication between all of the CSIs is crucial in carrying out the FSIS mission.”

Industry Work Paved the Way for FSIS Work 

Steven Soderborg is performing his consumer safety inspector duties.The Murray, Utah, native attended Ricks College in Idaho (now Brigham Young University Idaho) where he earned an associate’s degree in science in 1992.

Before working for FSIS, Soderborg worked in food-related fields, so coming to FSIS was the next logical step in his career. “My first job was at OK Foods in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. Next, I got a job at Tyson’s Food in Van Buren, Arkansas, and then transferred to Clarksville, Arkansas. I felt that my seven years working in industry allowed me to be able to communicate effectively and understand and relate better to establishment owners and employees when they have any questions or concerns.”

When not camping and teaching his group of scouts about food safety, Soderborg helps his wife, Rhonda, with fund raising projects for their three sons’ former high school football team, the Parkland Matadors. Soderborg and Rhonda have five kids: Steven, Jordan, Michael, Ashton, and Anne Marie.

 

Last Modified Oct 18, 2016