“I love being there to help other investigators with information and suggestions.”
- Judith Paterson, Emergency Response Coordinator, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Philadelphia Field Office
Q: How did your career begin at FDA?
Judith Paterson: I began my career with FDA in 1990. After 8 years in the Veterinary field, I went to a job fair at my old college. There I met with Joann Givens, was interviewed, and hired as an Investigator for Newark District. I began conducting inspections in the Medical Device field before switching over to low-acid canned food inspections.
Q: What do you value most about working at FDA?
JP: Seeing the world and protecting the public from unsafe foods and medical products. I was able to travel internationally when I started as an investigator conducting Low-Acid Canned Food inspections and continued to travel when I moved to my specialist role conducting Acidified Foods, Low-Acid Canned Foods and Seafood inspections. One of the more unique travel experiences I’ve had in my time with FDA was working on Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2012 in DC. My team had to track and ensure vendors providing foods to the parties and inauguration balls were passing inspection and I even had to arrange for the security detail necessary to safeguard the Presidential Cheesecake as it traveled from the Bakery in Chicago (A President Obama’s favorite) to DC, it was never a dull moment.
Q: What are you most proud of in terms of your work at FDA?
JP: I am proud to have worked on the FDA team, who remained after most other teams left, when the Atlanta Olympics bombing occurred in 1996. After the Atlanta bombing, I worked the Emergency Desk, coordinating efforts with Fulton County to investigate and find food venders, who failed to meet food code standards. The biggest investigation was in follow-up to the multiple complaints I was receiving regarding illnesses of our security staff (mainly National Guard) and moldy products provided to athletes at their venues. I coordinated with Fulton County and an Investigator from Philadelphia was tasked to follow the food. We found the vendor who was not following protocol and took action.
I’ve also assisted in influencing the change in inspectional policy on how USDA/FSIS conducted inspections in low-acid canned food facilities. I’m proud of the work I’ve done around providing evidence, which ended with the injunction against a medical device firm manufacturing dialysis equipment. And finally, I love being there to help other investigators with information and suggestions.
Q: What advice would you give to an FDA job seeker?
JP: My advice to job seekers is to care about the work you do and to not be afraid to go the extra steps, work the long hours needed, to protect the public from dangerous and fraudulent products.
Q: When you're not at work, what is your favorite way to unwind?
JP: Cuddling with my cats.