Consumer safety is first priority in agriculture

by | Jul 13, 2022

We Are Agriculture is a year-long series that will highlight the hard-work done by employees across the Department of Agriculture. Shelia Hall, Administrative Specialist 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!

The agriculture industry has a special way of bringing people together and creating an almost family-like dynamic between producers, farmers and other industry professionals. Shelia Hall grew up in agriculture, loving it from a young age, and came to work at the NCDA&CS later in life simply to help producers across the state provide the safest products to their consumers. “When I was a child, I used to tag along with my mom to help local tobacco farmers with their crops,” she said, “and when I got older, I worked for a tobacco farmer and also dug potatoes. That is when I really fell in love with this hard-working industry.”

After working for the North Carolina Industrial Commission for several years, Shelia came to work for the NCDA&CS as an Administrative Specialist with our Meat and Poultry Inspection Division. “I help meat handlers and producers across the state obtain their certification to sell their products,” she said. “When a producer calls to obtain their certification, I send them on to our Compliance officer in their area who will inspect the facility to ensure they are in compliance with all necessary regulations and procedures. From there, I review the paperwork and register them in the database system, once everything is approved and submitted.” In addition, Shelia processes paperwork for poultry exempt operators, sends out warning letters, orders supplies for the Meat & Poultry Division staff and manages the database for certified meat and poultry producers across the state.

Prior to her role with the Meat & Poultry Inspection Division, Shelia, like many others both inside and outside the industry, didn’t understand the function of the division, how they work with producers across the state or how their work affects consumer safety every day. “A person can’t simply produce and sell anything that they want too, especially when it comes to meat and poultry products, it takes an inspection,” she said. “We are all about food safety here. In fact, our division acts as the bridge between meat and poultry producers and the consumers of those products to ensure that the products being enjoyed across the state are healthy and safe for all.” When Shelia receives a complaint from a consumer or retail establishment, she is responsible for reporting that information to the appropriate parties and officers to start the inspection process. “Those complaint cases take priority over anything else in this division because protecting the citizens of our state through food safety is that important,” she said. Learning all of this information in a matter of two years and working in a role that touches the lives of many individuals both inside and outside the agriculture industry every day is a huge sense of pride for Shelia.

Although she loves many aspects of her job, Shelia’s favorite part is registering producers across the state into the database system once they receive their certification to produce and sell meat products. “Not only do I love seeing how the meat and poultry industry is growing across the state, but I also love to see how creative some producers and family farms get in naming their operation,” she said, “and speaking from experience, the more cute or catchy the name is, the more likely I am to remember it!” She also enjoys learning about the other parts of the state that she would like to one day visit.

When she is not at work, Shelia enjoys spending time with her grandchildren either at Kerr Lake or fishing and sometimes both! “I have five granddaughters and two grandsons who are my absolute pride and joy,” she said, “so, anytime I can spend more time with them, I take it!” Join us in thanking Shelia for all her hard work ensuring that meat and poultry producers across the state have what they need to produce and provide the safest and best tasting meat products for our families!