Field Trip: Inspecting turkeys and hams

by | Nov 22, 2010

In our “Field Trip” feature, we take readers into the field with a NCDA&CS employee to find out more about the varied types of work that go on in the department.

On any given day, Ronnie Abbott visits between three and five grocery stores in Wake County. Across the state, he and other standards inspectors meticulously check price scanners and scales for accuracy and weigh food items for net-content compliance. In other words, they make sure consumers get what they pay for at the grocery store.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, stores are stocking their shelves with holiday staples. A store carrying 10 to 15 turkeys during most of the year may carry hundreds of turkeys during the holidays. In response to this increased holiday supply, standards inspectors focus on turkeys and hams during their routine inspections in November and December. In the video below, we follow Ronnie on an inspection of a local retail store.

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As Ronnie explains in the video, he starts by checking the accuracy of his scale using a certified weight kit and shift test to make sure the scale weighs consistently. After determining the scale’s accuracy, he weighs a sample of available product on display.

Some products may weigh less than the marked weight because of a difference in rounding. Ronnie’s scale measures in thousandths of a pound (1.000) while most grocery stores measure in hundredths of a pound (1.00). Ronnie takes this difference into account during the inspection, and also notes the tare, or packaging weight, of the product.

In addition to turkeys and hams, standards inspectors also regulate mulch and strawberry stands during peak seasons, milk, take-out scales at buffet restaurants, gas pumps and taxi cab meters. You can find out more information about the Standards Division, including contact information at