Do you know beans about food safety?
June 01, 2001
By Tom Randgaard
Farmers and food processors have a joint role in providing a safe, nourishing food supply to our customers and ultimately the end users of our product.
Faribault Foods manufacturers a wide variety of canned foods including vegetables (peas, beans, corn), all types of dry beans, pasta products and hearty soups. We pride ourselves in making certain that we manufacture every can to high quality and safety specifications, ensuring a satisfied healthy consumer.
What is food safety? In part, it is ensuring that your food, my food and that of all consumers is what they deserve and expect it to be&it should not be contaminated, it should be free of disease, blemishes or in any way adulterated or spoiled. In todays highly technical society, food illnesses and other problems should not exist.
What are the primary components of a safe food supply?
1) The raw products must be uniform, fresh, wholesome, free of contaminants of disease and so forth. This integrity must be kept at all levels, from production to harvest, to transportation and processing.
2) Plant processing facilities must be immaculate. We are continually cleaning. We run two 10-hour shifts followed by a four-hour period of cleaning and sanitizing every day. We are routinely inspected by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to ensure that this is happening correctly.
We operate in a mode of continuous on-line inspection and process evaluation. We examine our empty containers for cleanliness and structural integrity. Our raw product processes include cleaning, proper dehydration, blanching, electric eye and hand inspections. We scrutinize our product formulations, the seals on our metal cans and ultimately the final sterilization of each can with tightly controlled and monitored cooking times and temperatures.
Following processing, we again evaluate each production lot through several of what we call cuttings where we open numerous cans from the lot and again evaluate all our of finished goods parameters. The finished product is then stored in one of our warehouses for a minimum period of time, usually 5 to 10 days depending upon the product, in what is called an incubation period. The incubation period is designed to show us any microscopic flaws in our containers or processes. If anything is absolutely not sterile, we will see bacterial growth, etc. during the incubation period. Next we load the finished goods onto clean and sound transportation vessels truck or rail for safe transport into the hands of our customers.
Lets go back to the first component of a safe good supply the raw product. This is your specific role in the food chain, as it exists today.
You must provide to the marketplace a safe, wholesome, sound raw product that will be accepted the world over. You have many considerations in the production of our safe food supply. Initially, it is the seed. It should reflect genetic purity and be disease free. We are living in an age of tremendous advantages in production and product quality that will be afforded by the advances in biotechnology and genetic modification. We must patiently work with our regulatory agencies and customers as they gradually accept the wonderful benefits of this technology.
Along with seed and the right variety, there are other agronomic characteristics suitable for each production environment fertilizer and rates, other enhancements, tillage, herbicides, fungicides (if needed for white mold, etc.), insecticides, desiccants and so forth.
When the crop is mature, proper harvest can mean the difference between profit and loss in some years. The cost of damage during harvest can be very high because it eventually establishes where the product can be marketed and what finished product it can be used in. Always do your absolute best to maximize the value of your crop through soundness of product, cleanliness, seed coat damage, etc. to main the best value.
Finally, storage and transportation are very important in maintaining high product quality. Always ensure clean and dry conditions exist to maintain the high quality product that you have produced.
Faribault Foods greatly appreciates your professional production efforts. By and large, you are the producers of the raw product we use in our many food products and we are one of your avenues to the ultimate marketplace the consumer.
Food safety is very much a team effort. Lets all work together to do the very best we can to provide a whole and safe food supply for our customers. Notice I said our customers. Consumers are the ultimate customers for us all.