As I went to write my piece for the Commissioner’s Corner, I was reminded of a devotional I read the other morning that stressed the importance of having your priorities straight and not letting small tasks overtake a larger mission. The devotional read:
A man who was teaching on priorities had a large jar and several large rocks. He placed five or six large rocks in the jar until no more could fit. Then he asked his audience, “Is the jar full?” and almost everyone shouted “yes!” He smiled and then pulled out a bag of smaller rocks and dumped them in until no more could fit. Then he pulled out a bag of sand and poured that into the jar until it couldn’t hold anymore.
Lastly, he pulled out a jug of water and poured water into the jar until it overflowed. He then paused and asked the question, “What was the point of this example?” The answers began to fly: “You can always add a little more,” “You should never be satisfied with the amount of things you are doing,” and “If you try harder, you can always do more.”
The crowd was pleased with itself until the speaker smiled one more time and said, “You are all wrong—very wrong.” He said, “The moral of this example is this. If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you will never fit them in. You see, we often lose in the areas that matter most because our time and energy are consumed on the little things and keep us from winning when it matters most.”
Many people cringed as they realized this was a picture of their over scheduled, under prioritized lives. Their lives were packed with the small rocks, the sand, and the water—their jars were full, but they were not doing the things that mattered most. Interestingly, you can skip your priorities and still seem “successful” to the outside world.
Priorities are the foundations that your house of life will be built on. They become life-goals that help set your path and direction. Each of us have our own jars filled with large rocks, priorities that represent our families, our faith, our careers and other values that make up the sand and water.
At the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the large rocks that fill up our jar can be found in our agency’s mission statement. Our priorities are to protect consumers, promote agriculture both locally and globally and assist our customers.
While we may have additional tasks to attend to—the sand and water in our jars—we must continuously focus on those large rocks and serve the people of Georgia to the best of our abilities.
Commissioner Gary W. Black
I often receive questions from establishment owners and managers about actions that the Georgia Meat Inspection Section (GMIS) might take in response to noncompliances observed. I’m always happy to field these questions in an effort to help you have a better understanding of our thought processes and inspection methodology.
Basically, there are no secrets to our approach and no “gotchas”, just a simple telling of, and response to, the facts in each situation. Although each noncompliance that we identify is handled on a case-by-case basis, there are foundational principles that we must follow to ensure consistency throughout the state. We must also ensure that our actions are equal-to the standards that USDA holds us accountable to.
Since this topic is too lengthy for a single newsletter, we will provide the information to you in a series of articles on the subject. For this first article, I will focus on noncompliance records (NRs), including your right to respectfully appeal any decision that GMIS staff make. Later volumes of this GMIS newsletter will include subsequent articles in this series describing additional actions that GMIS may take including: Regulatory Control Actions, Notices of Intended Enforcement (NOIEs), Letters of Warning (LOWs), Administrative Penalties, Suspension, Withdrawal, etc.
Noncompliance Records (NRs)
Definition: An official form used by meat inspection staff to document and communicate noncompliances observed to owners and/or managers of licensed meat establishments.
Discussion: When GMIS inspection staff observe noncompliance with regulatory requirements while inspecting your establishment, he or she is expected to document these noncompliances on a NR. This NR serves as a tool to document and communicate our findings to you.
I’ve had establishment owners and managers make comments to me that “receiving a NR is like receiving a traffic violation from a cop” and “I would rather the inspector just talk to me about the issue and let me fix it”. I invite our establishment owners and managers to take a new perspective when they receive a NR, as follows:
In our next newsletter I will continue with part 2 of this series. I will discuss various regulatory control actions that GMIS might take – including retain and reject tags, security tape and tags, and the slowing and stoppage of lines.
Adam Buuck, MPH, CPH
FSIS Notice 50-17 - Verification of Adequate Controls At Establishments in Areas Affected by Recent Hurricanes.
FSIS Compliance Guidance for Label Approval (Aug 2017)
This guideline is designed to help establishments determine what special statements or claims on labels which require submission to FSIS for approval or that can be generically approved. Additional information about label approval is provided as well.
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