As an investigator with the California Department of Public Health Food and Drug Branch, George Tiongson takes on Fortune 500 companies to shady back alley operators. If he didn't, lives could be lost.
"We, as a group, help save lives by enforcing the laws that ensure manufacturers of the foods we eat, drugs we take, and medical devices we use, comply with federal and state standards," said Mr. Tiongson.
It takes an assertive, confident, knowledgeable investigator to confront top dogs who may cut corners at the expense of consumers and consumer safety. Those same investigators work undercover, exposing dealers of drugs.
"There never seems to be a dull moment in the investigations we work," said Tiongson. "We could be investigating an injury from a powered scooter one day to investigating quackery or counterfeit drugs the next. I have always been interested in saving lives and that has pretty much directed my career path. "
Before joining state law enforcement and the world of public safety in January 2010, Mr. Tiongson worked for a not-for-profit blood bank for nine years. "To be able to gain valuable experience in Biologics before coming to the state has been invaluable in my current role," said Mr. Tiongson. "I continue to be a blood donor because it is very rewarding to know that somewhere someone can benefit from my blood components."
Also rewarding, calling on firms to take corrective action and make changes in policies or procedures that translate into safer products for those who use them. "The unit I am currently assigned to is involved with recalls, complaints, referrals of drugs, and medical devices," said Mr. Tiongson. "We are also the group to Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement (STAKE)."
Mr. Tiongson now joins the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) board as president of the California Association of Food and Drug Investigators (CAFDI). "I became interested in the board to become a strong voice to address some of the issues that face our investigators," said Mr. Tiongson. "I wanted to see more representation in our field. We have had our class, 'Food and Drug Investigators' eliminated and we are going through some significant changes in the way we do business through the passing of legislative bills."
Mr. Tiongson has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences and has furthered his education with, among other things, certificate programs for Project Management and Clinical Research Professional Development.
"Being in law enforcement and sharing that common bond with others is very satisfying," said Mr. Tiongson. "Whenever I get a chance, I help others in need and having a badge, even off duty, knowing I can be a first responder is very rewarding."