Inspecting Meat Across the Industry

by | Feb 2, 2022

We Are Agriculture is a year-long series that will highlight the hard-work done by employees across the Department of Agriculture. Tammy Thornton, Consumer Safety Inspector with our Meat and Poultry Inspection Division, is one of those employees. Stay tuned each Wednesday here on the blog or any of our social media accounts and join us in honoring those who continue to drive our state’s agriculture industry forward each day!

Tammy Thornton, Consumer Safety Inspector with our Meat and Poultry Inspection Division, is on the front lines of food safety in her position. Stationed at the Nahunta Slaughter House in Wayne County, Tammy works hard each day to ensure consumers have quality and safe meat products available in local stores.

Tammy grew up in an agricultural family with her father working at a produce company. She has loved the agriculture industry from a young age and never veered from the path it started for her. “When I was younger and in school, I would spend my summers working the green season at Mount Olive pickle company,” Tammy said, “and I always enjoyed working in that position, learning more about the industry and growing my experience.” She also worked with turkeys and chickens for a while at various plants before starting her role at the department of agriculture.

In 2008, Tammy stepped into her role as Consumer Safety Inspector. For eight hours a day, five days a week, Tammy is inspecting hogs before, during and after slaughter to ensure the quality is good, meat is safe and animal treatment is humane. “I inspect hogs when they come off the truck, during slaughter and before they are processed to ensure all the meat is safe for consumers,” she said. “You really have to know what you are looking for because it’s vitally important to make sure that the food we eat is not only of top quality but is also safe for consumption. Sometimes an animal may look okay to the novice when in reality it needs further inspection to determine if it is okay to eat.” Although the animals go through several processes before they reach Tammy, she is the final step before products are finalized and sent forward.

When Tammy finds something of concern with an animal, she places a retail tag on it and calls in the Raleigh veterinarians. “They will come out and do further inspection on the animal when needed,” Tammy explained, “and they will be the ones to determine what to do with that animal.”

Although her job can have its challenges and tough moments, Tammy wouldn’t trade anything for the position she loves. “I honestly wake up every morning and look forward to coming to work,” she said. “I love what I do. I am honored to be in a position that promotes the health and well-being of individuals across our state as well as the humane treatment of animals.”

In fact, her favorite part of the job is enforcing the rules and regulations that might otherwise be overlooked. “I take pride in knowing that my position serves a purpose and would be missed if it wasn’t here,” she said. “Enforcing rules and regulations for our industry to follow, especially in this regard, is of high-importance for everyone involved. To know that I have the opportunity to do that every day, makes me very proud.”

Whether at work or in her personal life, Tammy truly enjoys helping people and being seen as someone that others can come too. “If I can’t help you myself, I will find someone that will,” she said, “but my greatest passion in life is just helping others and extending the hand to be there. It’s just who I am.”

When she is not at work, you can find Tammy enjoying a quite night at home with her husband and two fur babies, Corkie and Midnight. “They are my family and my true pride and joy,” she said, “there is nothing like coming home to that kind of unconditional love at the end of the day.” Join us in thanking Tammy for all her hard work keeping our pork supply safe each year!