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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Faces of Food Safety: Shunekia McAuley-Spears, Consumer Safety Inspector

Shunekia McAuley-Spears“I love food, and I love science,” says Shunekia McAuley-Spears, an FSIS consumer safety inspector (CSI) in New Orleans, La. McAuley-Spears will celebrate her tenth year with the agency in December. “I have loved every minute of it…I feel personally responsible for ensuring that the plants I inspect produce safe and wholesome products for everybody who buys them, as I always envision that it could be me or anyone of my family members buying these products.”

McAuley-Spears has a four-plant patrol assignment. She typically gets up very early in the morning as her commute from home to work is a little more than an hour each way. Plants in need of having their equipment reviewed before operations can begin (also known as “pre-ops”) are the plants that she visits first. “Pre-ops take precedence, because the plants’ machinery is disassembled, so I have to inspect it first to make sure that it is clean before the plant can begin its operations,” she said. After she inspects the establishment’s equipment, McAuley-Spears walks through the establishment to identify anything that does not meet FSIS’ standards. If something is not up to standard, McAuley-Spears will address the issue directly with plant employees and management.

“I feel personally responsible for ensuring that the plants I inspect produce safe and wholesome products for everybody who buys them...”

Shunekia McAuley-Spears

These hands on-verification and enforcement activities conducted by CSIs play a critical role in determining whether an establishment’s products can receive the USDA mark of inspection. As such, McAuley-Spears is a true believer in FSIS’ One Team, One Purpose motto because she knows it takes a team of dedicated employees with one goal to protect the Nation’s supply of meat, poultry and egg products.

McAuley-Spears also enjoys being an ambassador for food safety when she is with her family and friends. Every chance her kids (15-year-old Samia and 10-year-old Reginald Jr.) get to talk about their mom and her job, they do. “They remind their friends that I’m a food inspector who doesn’t play around when it comes to food safety,” she said. McAuley-Spears also gifts food thermometers to family and friends. “By having this important position with FSIS, I am able to educate my family, my friends and my kids’ friends on the importance of food safety.” 

McAuley-Spears is also the president of the American Federation of Government Employees Southwest Council of Food Inspectors Local 3501. “Being in the union gives employees a sense of support,” she states. “They know that I am honest and fair, and that they can come to me with their concerns without fear of retaliation or being viewed in a judgmental way. For the most part, people just need a little help learning how to speak with their supervisors, and I teach them how to do that.” McAuley-Spears won her second term by being a write-in candidate. She was “surprised and overjoyed” to learn that her colleagues thought so highly of her to elect her again, without her even being on the ballot. McAuley-Spears believes this probably happened because she has a “good rapport with leadership and with peers” and continually gives of her time to others.

CSI Shunekia McAuley-Spears at work

Her giving nature also extends to her personal life. Five years ago, she surprised her father-in-law by donating one of her kidneys to him. McAuley-Spears has no regrets about giving that gift of life and states that her father-in-law is doing great. He never had to be on dialysis.

McAuley-Spears is compassionate about her job, the people she works with in the field, her family and her friends. “I absolutely love my job,” McAuley-Spears says.

Last Modified Dec 05, 2013