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Some truth about the beef industry

Author: Kristy

beef-cowThe beef industry is controversial to many.  There are many perceptions that people have about the industry that are misguided.  Though I am not in that industry anymore,  I have a ton of experience in it. I wanted to share some insights that may help you understand the truth.

There seems to be ALOT of odd thoughts about hamburger.  Many myths abound because of practices that are no longer allowed.  There is also a lot of ignorance regarding government inspection of meat plants.  So here you go with some real truth.

  • Beef, chicken, and pork plants are inspected by the USDA not the FDA.  In fact, the USDA is at the plant from start to finish EVERYDAY ALL DAY ALL YEAR LONG.  The plant can’t even start without a USDA inspector, usually a veterinarian, on site to check the animals or product prior to starting production.  They actually check every single animal that goes through the process.
  • There is pre-operational inspections.  Before the plant starts, a USDA inspector will check the machinery and facilities of the plant prior to work starting.  If things are found even with a speck of something, work doesn’t start until the plant cleans and sanitizes it first, lets the USDA check it again, and releases it as clean.  All this happens AFTER the plant checks everything first.
  • The inspectors check all the organs and glands looking for disease as well as check every animal for any type of contamination.  There is a ZERO TOLERANCE law in effect that the animals cannot have any visible contamination.  Then plants have to have a scientifically validated intervention to remove any INVISIBLE contamination.  EVERY animal is check by an inspector.  Any animal that is found to have disease is condemned and thrown away.
  • All the plants have to go through multiple third party process and paperwork audits.  Even though every plant has USDA present all the time, the customers of each plant require the plants to go through usually at least two third party audits every year.  If the plants don’t do it, they are removed from the accepted customer list.  A third party audit ranges from 2-7 days depending on the plant size and process.  During a third party audit EVERYTHING is looked at including: Packaging traceback, product traceback, pest control, humane handling of animals, sanitation and cleaning procedures, HACCP audits, metal detection controls, employee sanitation, and a whole mother load of other things.  It’s very stressful lol.
  • There are multiple-hurdle steps within the process at every plant (this is required by the USDA and ALL customers).  These include steam vacuuming carcasses, hot water washes, cold water washes, organic acid washes, and thorough inspections and removal of all contamination prior to release to USDA.  These processes are all in place to remove and reduce microbiological contamination that could harm people and also those that do not harm people but could produce spoilage.  After these steps, the facility is kept at below 45 degrees so that any potential microbes that do exist will not grow.
  • Their are regulatory requirements that force plants to treat animals in a humane way.  If you do not treat them in a humane way,  you get shut down.  Treating the animals humanely is also known by all plant personnel to improve appearance of product and increase yield.  Heck, humane treatment also makes for a much better work environment for the employees as well.
  • Every plant has a HACCP and SSOP program The HACCP plan analyzes every potential foreseen or unforeseen hazard in the process in a scientifically justifiable way.  Then steps are put into place to remove the hazard.  These steps are then scientifically validated as is required by USDA and all customers.  The SSOP is the standard sanitation operating procedure and is in place to ensure that all product contact surfaces remain clean throughout the day.  If something goes wrong anywhere within the process the USDA writes up the plant for the non-compliance and the plant has to immediate fix the problem, come up with a plan to prevent the problem in the future, and get that approved by the USDA before starting up again.  This is all done in writing.
  • Hamburger is actually JUST beef.  When the “cuts” (loinstrips, ribeyes, T-bones, tenderloins, etc) are removed, the left over boneless beef is put into 2000lbs boxes.  It is then tested.  When the test is confirmed negative for E.coli 0157:H7 it can then be shipped (usually 24 hours after the sample is tested).  It is then ground at a grinding plant.  There is no coloring, there is no spices, no tails, no ears, no weird stuff, there is NOTHING in it but beef and if there is it must be labeled CLEARLY.  Seriously, even WATER has to be labeled if it is added to the beef.  Only the chicken people do that and you will notice that it is labeled as well.
  • I have seen many videos that claim the big companies don’t know where their meat comes from.  This is total and complete bull crap.  The traceability required by the USDA and each plants customers is out of this world intensive.  When I did this stuff, I could trace a package of steaks or ground beef at a supermarket all the way back to the farmer who brought the cow into the slaughtering plant.  So could everyone else in the industry.  It is easily done with the systematic approached used by the industry.  Each company also performs “mock recalls” to practice their ability to traceback product.  Believe me, they all know where it comes from. Without a doubt.
  • When beef is shipped it’s shipped in sealed refrigerated trucks.  If the truck shows up to the customer without the seal it is rejected and thrown away.
  • At the end of each day the ENTIRE plant is cleaned from floor to ceiling.  This is a very thorough cleaning far better than anyone would ever do for their homes.  There are also smaller and lighter clean ups throughout the work day.

Well hopefully that was educational for you.  I humbly wanted to share some truths that I have seen and verified THOUSANDS of times.

Posted in In The Industry |
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