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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Faces of Food Safety: Thomas Collaro: Passion for Consumer Safety

Thomas Collaro, Senior Compliance InvestigatorThomas Collaro is a Senior Compliance Investigator based in Philadelphia, Pa., serving the Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit’s (OIEA) Northeast region.

OIEA contributes to the FSIS public health mission through the surveillance and investigation of meat, poultry and processed egg product facilities; investigation of foodborne illness outbreaks; response to natural disaster and intentional contamination events; execution and application of enforcement of FSIS criminal, civil and administrative sanctions and authorities; and equivalency verification. “Simply put, once meat, poultry or processed egg products leave the control of the federal establishment, our job is to ensure it reaches the ultimate consumer wholesome, unadulterated, properly packaged and labeled,” Collaro said. “Any program is only as good as its enforcement.”

As a Senior Investigator, Collaro is involved in the more sensitive reviews and investigations, and serves as a team leader, coordinating the collection of evidence and data by other Investigators. “I detect, plan and develop criminal, bio-security and illness outbreak investigations,” Collaro said. “In addition, I coordinate other enforcement activities conducted by Investigators involving surveillance activities, collection and analysis of complex records, and control of adulterated or misbranded product.”

“I have been fortunate enough to have had mentors throughout my career, and I like being in a position that I can share some of the knowledge obtained from almost two
decades of working in FSIS.”

Thomas Collaro

Collaro comes from a long line of butchers and has an uncle who was a Consumer Safety Inspector. His uncle’s influence along with his family’s background in the meat industry provided the foundation that started his federal career.

When Collaro initially applied for a job at FSIS, however, he didn’t fully understand the Agency’s role. “I just assumed that if meat or poultry made its way to the retail sector, it was safe to eat; I was in for a big surprise!” Collaro said. Initially hired as an Inspector working on a chicken slaughter line, Collaro was driven to explore other opportunities within the Agency. “I applied for promotions and took on any available training as my career progressed,” he said. “I believe I have worked at every conceivable establishment there is.” Collaro eventually applied for a position as a Compliance Investigator and was selected. Having been a mentee himself, Collaro says that he likes the mentoring and training aspect of his job. “I’ve never forgotten what it’s like to be the ‘newbie,’ going from a job you know, to a job where everything is alien,” Collaro said. “I have been fortunate enough to have had mentors throughout my career, and I like being in a position that I can share some of the knowledge obtained from almost two decades of working in FSIS.”

Collaro’s passion is investigating illness outbreaks. “Nothing else gets me going more than knowing that someone became ill simply from eating a meal either at home or at a restaurant, and knowing that if I do my job I can prevent additional people from getting sick,” Collaro said. Collaro believes that it requires a dedicated team of people to produce the results that FSIS has achieved. “Over the years, we have been very successful in quickly identifying the source of various outbreaks, and I am incredibly proud of our work and the FSIS team,” he said. Collaro is an avid sports fan and since football season is back, he will be rooting for his favorite hometown team, the New York Jets. Collaro enjoys traveling and being outside. He likes to hike in the warmer months and snowshoe in the winter months. “I am proud to say that I hiked up Mt. Teide last year, which is the highest peak in Spain,” he said.

 

Last Modified Oct 18, 2016