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Cristina Picazo’s Hard Work Pays Off

CSI Cristina Picazo in her USDA office at Establishment M278, a large beef slaughter and processing plant in Holcomb, Kansas.

Maria Cristina Picazo is on the move — to Wichita, Kansas, to be exact. A consumer safety inspector (CSI) at an establishment in Holcomb, Kansas, Picazo applied for and was promoted to enforcement, investigations and analysis officer (EIAO) in March 2020. After training, she will make the move to begin her new position in Wichita. This has been a noteworthy year for Picazo — in addition to her promotion, she earned an associate degree in animal science, as well as food safety and food production certificates at Garden City Community College (GCCC) in Garden City, Kansas. Through FSIS’ Continuing Education Program (CEP), the Agency reimbursed her for courses related to food safety, food science and animal science. While working full time throughout her coursework, she made the GCCC President’s Honor Roll for achieving a grade point average of 4.0.

Her A-shift supervisor, Dr. Camilo Potes, said, “I have known Ms. Cristina Picazo for almost three years during which time she worked with me as a CSI, and I have been consistently impressed with her attitude and productivity. Cristina is both very bright and quite motivated. She is also a quick learner and has shown the ability to digest large volumes of information and to articulate information and ideas. I am confident that she will devote herself with a high degree of diligence and success to her new role as an EIAO.”

Picazo’s Career Track

Picazo began her FSIS career as a food inspector in 2003. She earned her promotion to CSI in 2007, where she conducts inspection verification activities of beef products to ensure establishments comply with the Federal Meat Inspection Act. These verification activities consist of performing direct observations and records review of the establishment’s implementation of their written hazard analysis and critical control point program, standard operating procedures, sanitation performance standards and all other food safety programs. She also conducts humane handling, ante-mortem and post-mortem inspections, and performs export verification and sampling of products. Said Picazo, “I get a tremendous amount of fulfillment and satisfaction knowing that every day I protect the health of consumers, the welfare of animals and the nation’s food supply chain.”

Picazo’s B-shift supervisor, Dr. Kevin J. Lavelle, describes her as “an extremely hard worker. She is excellent in the performance of her responsibilities and is very knowledgeable of the regulations and directives. Cristina applies this knowledge proficiently in the presence of deficiencies she finds on her patrols of the establishment. She possesses the ability to interact with the establishment management and personnel professionally and communicate her concerns to the veterinary medical officer promptly, succinctly and accurately. Most importantly, Cristina is a team player and always does her best to contribute to the fulfillment of the Agency’s mission.”

Picazo believes FSIS fosters success: “FSIS empowers me to be successful through many training opportunities where I have gained extensive knowledge to successfully execute my duties. I currently participate in FSIS mentoring programs where I contribute as both mentor and mentee.” Her mentor encouraged her to pursue the EIAO position. She also mentors food inspectors who are interested in a CSI position; to date, seven of her mentees have applied for and earned promotions to CSIs.

Prior to working at FSIS, Picazo was a quality assurance supervisor for a large beef plant. The position helped her understand food safety concepts and the importance of ensuring that food products are produced in a wholesome manner. A CSI at the plant discussed FSIS opportunities with her. She decided to apply for a job with the Agency because she had always been interested in food safety and wanted to be part of the FSIS team. More recently, a mentor in the Springdale District mentoring program helped Picazo understand the role and duties of an EIAO, which ultimately led to her new role with the Agency. Picazo advises anyone with a passion for food safety to consider a career with FSIS, and added, “I would advise them to prepare themselves for a wonderful career.”

“FSIS empowers me to be successful through many training opportunities where I have gained extensive knowledge to successfully execute my duties. I currently participate in FSIS mentoring programs where I contribute as both mentor and mentee.”

Cristina Picazo

Paying it Forward

Picazo enjoys running, listening to music and volunteering her time. An avid advocate of the Continuing Education Program, she has written articles about the program for the district newsletter. As a member of the Springdale District Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee, she has volunteered to make presentations about CEP to fellow FSIS employees. She has also assisted the Springdale District with several recruiting events. In addition to mentoring food inspectors, she has tutored others continuing their education and assisted with several resume writing classes for FSIS inspectors in the southwestern Kansas area.

Picazo is married with five children: Cristina, Leopoldo, Priscila, and twins Brianna and Britney. Also employed by FSIS for over twelve years, her husband Armando Picazo is a CSI in Holcomb, Kansas. It’s no surprise the couple has taught their children about food safety — how to read labels, check expiration dates on food products and measure the internal temperature of foods when cooking.

Picazo is excited about her new EIAO opportunity. She is going places — to Wichita and beyond.

 

Last Modified Sep 08, 2020