Cheol Joon Baek
I am a food safety inspector, responsible for ensuring compliance with Ontario food premises regulations so the food served to the public is safe to eat.
I took a bachelor of science in biology at Dalhousie University and then applied for the public health and safety program at Ryerson University.
Everything I'd studied earlier prepared me for what was taught at Ryerson, where you're taking courses on epidemiology, the study of disease and food safety classes on all the pathogens involved in food-borne illness. You touch upon occupational health and safety as well.
Unlike the careers they make TV shows about - like medicine - there isn't much publicity out there about public health. In our profession, when nothing happens that's a good thing, because that means we're doing our jobs and preventing illness.
On the job, you run into some really mind-boggling situations. I received a complaint about a restaurant where a cockroach was seen crawling up the wall. To a health inspector, that sets off alarm bells.
I conducted my inspection, and this place was absolutely infested. Cockroaches were crawling on the ceiling, in the food, around the food, throughout the premises. The inspection resulted in a closure.
I'm a pretty small guy. Just imagine me facing someone twice my size. The job involves doing things that will upset the person you're inspecting. Developing a thick skin is something you learn on the job, not in the classroom.
I'm partway through a master's program at the University of Guelph in food safety and quality assurance. You always hear about new outbreaks around the world, so it's important that we stay up to date with changing trends in food safety as well as new laws enacted to ensure a safe food supply.