The Day I Became the Feds

June 22, 2017

One of my most exciting days so far has been the day I became…the Feds.

As I’ve been shadowing the various departments of the District Health Office, I’ve gotten to see and learn a little bit about everything. I’ve sat through some meetings, done some clinic visits, and had plenty conversations with experts about their field of work.

But this day in particular was action-packed. A real-life scene of Law & Order… (I’m exaggerating actually but just hear me out.)

I became…wait for it…the dreaded…food safety inspector! Well, I didn’t become her, but I accompanied the District Veterinary physician on surprise visits to some local food shops, and it was actually really fun, lol; pretty much everything I expected a food inspection to be.

Of course we found some “illegal” business practices happening…a couple broken regulations…and unfortunately, came across some plain ol’ unsanitary conditions (as I’m sure you’d find just about anywhere). All of the exchanges between the inspectors and the shop owners did happen in Hebrew, but I’d say I’m pretty good at reading body language and assessing non-verbal cues, shifts in tone, etc and can I tell you, she was not pleased with their business practices, and they perhaps feigned ignorance on their shortcomings.

The thrill of busting in unexpected and standing behind a professional woman who did not come to negotiate was very, very exciting. I also learned a lot from her on this day about the Food Services industry in Israel and how things are regulated and monitored. Fun fact: the milk here is probably the safest in the entire world. Every individual cow is tracked and monitored; talk about thorough. Anywho, it was a lot more interesting than I’d expected, and if you’re reading this carefully, you probably had the same thought I did before I went on this exciting mission: how does a veterinarian become a public health professional?

Once I asked and she explained this to me, everything just clicked. Essentially, her focus is on diseases of animals, not necessarily animals themselves, and what’s the best way for a zoonotic disease to be transmitted to humans? Through food of course. (Doesn’t it make a whole lot of sense? Brilliant, when you think about it).

On the ride to the shops and back, her extensive knowledge on microorganisms and zoonotic disease became apparent, as she was incredibly passionate in teaching me about common bacterial infections specific to the food departments and causes for outbreaks in the area she oversees. I learned (or perhaps, relearned) so so much. I also realized how much I had forgotten from the prehistoric days, also known FBS last semester (boy, do I have a lot of work to do).

At the end of the day, I had fun being the food police. But besides that, my public health exposure was a meaningful one and I hope to do more visits like these in the future.

 

Peace & love (& Listeria & outbreaks & real-life dramas),

The I.T. Factor

Future Badass MD.

 

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