“We Do That!” – Microbiology in NCDA&CS

by | Apr 9, 2024

“We Do That!” is the title theme for a video series launched this year from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It’s about all the many different types of jobs within the department, and the title is a reflection of that. If you can think of a type of job, there’s a chance “We Do That!” in the department – from the fields of research farms to the laboratories that test for animal disease and food and drug safety. It takes lots of jobs to service the people of North Carolina through the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Across the department’s 26 divisions, you’ll find jobs in the field that deal with plants, animals, farmers markets or ag centers, pesticide regulations, pollinators, meat processing, truck driving and forestry, just to name a few. Many jobs in the department are also based in offices or laboratories, from veterinary or agronomic testing, to accounting, legal services and marketing.
The series continues with this video of Commissioner Steve Troxler talking with Charlene Mangum, media prep technician with the Microbiology Laboratory in the Food and Drug Protection Division.
The Microbiology Lab provides analytical services to support the activities of the of the Food and Drug Protection Division‘s Food Program and the Meat and Poultry Inspection Division. The Food Microbiology Laboratory analyzes food samples collected across the state of North Carolina from food manufacturers, retail, wholesale, farmer’s markets and roadside stands for the presence of pathogens and other microorganisms.

Watch this video for the conversation about her job and/or read the transcript below.

Commissioner Troxler:
Hello, I’m Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler, and I have with me today, Charlene Mangum. She’s with Food and Drug Protection, and she is a microbiology media prep technician. What do you do for the department, and, you know, food safety has been a focus of mine since I’ve been here. So, I know that you are affecting food safety. How do you do that?

Charlene:
I make all the media and broth – the agar – for microbiology to test the microorganisms – salmonella, E. coli, yeast and mold, listeria.

Commissioner Troxler:
And all of those are nasty organisms. So, I’m glad you know what you’re doing and you’re protecting me.

Charlene:
Yes.

Commissioner Troxler:
And I know these organisms can be in meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, you name it. So, we are protecting people for what they eat every day.

Charlene:
Every day. Every day.

Commissioner Troxler:
How long did you work for the department? And tell me what your workday looks like.

Charlene:
I have been with the department since 2010. June of 2010. My normal day is I come in and I read my emails. I go to my Qualtracks to see what I have to do for the day. And once I find out what I have to do, I time myself. That is just something I do for me. And I start from a calibrating of the balances, which are scales, up until I go upstairs to actually make the broth.
But it’s just almost cooking, you know, like working with the recipe. So, I print my worksheet out, which is the recipe, and then I just follow the recipe line by line.

Commissioner Troxler:
You know, most people probably don’t understand what all the accreditation 17025 means, but I know it means that your job has got to be done perfectly right every time.

Charlene:
Every time. Every time.

Commissioner Troxler:
This lab is a fairly new lab facility – something that we all in the department are proud of. How does the facility compare to where you were?

Charlene:
It’s more technical. Beautiful, beautiful. More room. Makes you do your work more effective.

Commissioner Troxler:
What’s the best part of your day?

Charlene:
Well, the whole day is good for me. Just getting started, meeting and just fellowshipping from a work standpoint with my coworkers and then just getting what needs to be done. I again, like I told you, I time myself with everything that I do, and just making sure that they have what they need before they need it. That’s the best part for me.

Commissioner Troxler:
I’m going to put you on the spot just a little bit now. I like to think of Department Ag as just one big family, and I can tell talking to you that you’re a very warm person. How do you feel about working for the Department of Agriculture?

Charlene:
I really like working for the Department of Agriculture. One of the things is that it is a diverse place, and I enjoy meeting new people from different cultures, different ethnicities, and it’s just been a joy to learn their customs, to learn some of their work habits and, you know, their food is just awesome. So, it’s almost like we’re family.
And since we’ve been in this building, we never really got a chance to fellowship or to work with the vet lab, and now working with the vet lab, we’ve met those people that we wouldn’t have met down the street, and so it is a family-oriented place.

Commissioner Troxler:
Well, I certainly do appreciate that, and I appreciate the hard work that you put in every day to keep every citizen in this state safe.

Charlene:
Thank you so much. Thank you.