Valley Meats Employs Multiple Testing and Safety Procedures in the Processing of Beef Products

Jan 25, 2010, 07:30 ET from Valley Meats

COAL VALLEY, Ill., Jan. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- While lawmakers prepare to introduce legislation to mandate greater E. coli inspections of ground beef and national media fuels the debate on the need for greater testing and safety procedures, one regional Illinois-based processor, Valley Meats, has taken a major pre-emptive move and has instituted a series of state-of-the-art testing and treatment technologies to eradicate harmful pathogens into their product stream.

Valley Meats, which owns and operates a successful 30,000-square-foot food processing facility in Coal Valley, Illinois, has recently employed the highly-effective Test-and Hold system for finished ground beef verification sampling and the SANOVA® disinfectant system to continuously spray the surfaces of raw materials used to produce ground beef products.

Investments in technology, research and more sophisticated process controls, according to Patrick Boyle, President and CEO for the American Meat Institute, have resulted in the incidents of pathogens in beef products dropping 45 percent over the past 10 years.  Today E. coli incidence is less than one-half of one percent of beef products.

But that's still not good enough for Valley Meats President Jeff Jobe, who has instituted a mandatory three-step process to ensure its ground beef products are free of any harmful pathogens before being shipped to market.

"We test the product as it comes in the door, then we continuously line and auger spray with SANOVA® and we employ the test-and-hold procedures on individual lots of ground beef," he said.

Test-and-hold requires careful time and inventory management, according to Jobe, involving multiple sample lots of ground beef that are segregated and detained until negative results are obtained.

As one of a small percentage of beef processors in the U.S. to routinely employ test-and-hold inventory management protocols, Valley Meats' finished ground beef sampling system is one of the industry's most effective, delineating responsibilities for personnel, documentation, equipment and materials. The program clearly defines guidelines for raw material handling, sampling of finished product, testing of two hour production lots and USDA/FSIS sampling.

James Sommer, Valley Meats' head of production, said all product must be traceable back to the production lot, and must be on hold status and not released until all results for the production day are available and it has been determined that product meets the stringent testing standards.

Corrective actions based on improper sample collection, presumptive positive test results and safety zones are established to ensure that no implicated product enters commerce.

If a pathogen is detected, the entire lot is either sold to a "cooker", a firm that cooks or sells prepared meat (E. Coli bacteria is destroyed when properly cooked at minimum temperatures of at least 160ºF) or the lot is destroyed.

SANOVA®, a disinfecting agent consisting of sodium chlorite and citric acid, is used as a pre-treatment processing aid in the application of what is essentially a disinfectant to all facets of irregularly-shaped raw materials, killing disease-causing bacteria on contact.

This microbiospray provides the best assurance that ground beef produced by Valley Meats will be free of harmful pathogens, such as Salmonella and E. coli 0157:H7, a sometimes-deadly bacteria believed to mostly live in the intestines of cattle but has also been found in the intestines of chickens, deer, sheep, goats and pigs.  The spray does not affect the quality, taste or color of the meat.

Valley Meats, which voluntarily recalled ground beef earlier this year due to a possible E. coli contamination, is according to Jobe, "taking every measure, including the recent application of new pathogen eradication methods such as the SANOVA® spray, to assure our customers that they are purchasing the safest products available on the market."

For more information on Valley Meats and its testing and processing safety measures, please contact James Sommer at (309) 799-7341.

About Valley Meats

Valley Meats and associated brand J & B Meats have for the past 35 years provided high quality meat products to regional casual and quick service dining venues in the central Midwest.  The product line includes fresh and frozen steaks and chops, fresh and frozen ground beef products, specialty flavored beef patties, as well as prepared items such as breaded pork and beef selections, beef strips and diced meats.  Valley Meats, with annual revenues of $40 million, employs 70.

SOURCE Valley Meats