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Faces of Food Safety: Jannette Pagán-Sánchez — Proud of Her Contribution to the FSIS Mission

Deputy Regional DirectorJannette Pagán-Sánchez analyzes documents and evidence in the Brea Sub-Regional Office in Albany, California. Photo by An Bui, OIEA
Deputy Regional Director Jannette Pagán-Sánchez analyzes documents and evidence in the Brea Sub-Regional Office in Albany, California. Photo by An Bui, OIEA.

Jannette Pagán-Sánchez is a deputy regional director in the Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit’s (OIEA) Compliance and Investigations Division (CID) in Albany, California. She manages three CID supervisory investigators, each of whom oversees a team of Western Region investigators. These investigators help ensure the safety of the food supply in 13 states and 3 territories.

“I’m from Naguabo, Puerto Rico, and it was my first experience with snow. I wasn’t able to be outside when it was cold.”

Jannette Pagán-Sánchez

Pagán-Sánchez’s teams are the boots on the ground for conducting a variety of investigations related to non-federally inspected, illegally imported, and failure-to-present products; export fraud; food defense and security; sales of adulterated, unwholesome, and falsely labeled products; food-related consumer complaints; and foodborne illness outbreaks. These investigations can lead to recommendations for criminal prosecution, changes in processing and slaughter procedures, or withdrawal of FSIS inspection services (i.e., shutting down the plant). These issues are far reaching, having an impact on the Agency, industry and consumers, so Pagán-Sánchez ensures that her team performs thorough and ethical investigations.

Strategic Partnerships and Principled Regulations

Collaboration with FSIS’ sister agencies — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, USDA’s Office of Inspector General, U.S. and state Attorneys General offices, and state and local police and fire departments — is key to CID’s investigative mission. Pagán-Sánchez says, “We partner with state, local, and national agencies and officials for issues regarding meat, poultry and processed egg products, which includes obtaining their cooperation in stopping such products from entering commerce or removing the product from the food supply. FSIS’ investigators can’t be everywhere at all times, so our partners are part of a strategic effort to share knowledge and utilize resources.”

Pagán-Sánchez believes in the Agency’s mission and relies on its policies when performing her duties. “My job is important, and some may think FSIS is a stickler with its regulations, but I believe the U.S. consumer should be able to have faith and trust that the products they consume are wholesome, safe, properly labeled and packaged. Our regulatory mission supports that trust and peace of mind,” she said. “Additionally, my family and friends tell me that when they see the USDA inspection mark on packages, they have faith that they will not get sick from consuming that product. Performing my job makes me feel that I am making a difference in food safety. I feel that I contribute to the trust that U.S. consumers can have in their food safety system.”

Road to FSIS

Pagán-Sánchez brought a foundational food safety background with her when she joined FSIS 12 years ago. She worked as a quality assurance manager at a national chain restaurant, where she learned about FSIS and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point systems. Her first FSIS position as a GS-5 food inspector was in a beef slaughter plant in Schuyler, Nebraska. Her most vivid memories of her time in Nebraska were not about the job, but about the weather. She says, “I’m from Naguabo, Puerto Rico, and it was my first experience with snow. I wasn’t able to be outside when it was cold.”

A year and a half later, she was promoted to an import inspector position, left the cold behind her in Nebraska and moved to American Samoa, where the temperature varies from 77 °F to 88 °F. In 2010, she was promoted to import surveillance officer, and moved to Diamond Bar, California. In 2013, she joined the CID team, and assumed her current position in February of this year.

Academics and Activities

Pagán-Sánchez earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology and Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico, and a Master of Social Science degree in Criminal Justice from Turabo University in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. She is currently working toward a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

She was a medical specialist in the U.S. Army and loves to travel, run marathons and participate in water activities, such as swimming, kayaking, canoeing and paddling. Pagán-Sánchez says, “I grew up on an island, so I love watersports.”

 

Last Modified Jun 21, 2019