Foster Farms Recognised for Progress in Poultry Meat Safety18 June 2014
US - On its 75th anniversary, Foster Farms has been recognised for its leadership by state and local leaders and reported significant results of its food safety initiatives.
United States Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), US Representatives Jim Costa (D-California) and David Valadao (R-California), and California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross joined Foster Farms President and CEO Ron Foster at an event marking Foster Farms' 75th Anniversary. Held at the historic home of founders Max and Verda Foster, the event commemorated the company's contribution to the poultry industry, consumers and the Central Valley community where it is based.
A pioneer in locally produced poultry, Foster Farms was recognised by officials for the leadership it has brought to the poultry industry on the West Coast. Initiatives cited include efforts to better define common labeling terms, such as 'fresh' and 'natural'; speaking out against 'plumping', the addition of salt to fresh poultry products; and most recently, becoming the first major producer to be certified by the American Humane Association.
Foster Farms used the occasion of its anniversary to report on the company's $75 million effort to reduce Salmonella. Most recent 10-week data, shared with both the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicated a Salmonella parts level of approximately two per cent, significantly less than the USDA reported 2011/2012 industry benchmark of 25 per cent.
Dr Robert O'Connor, senior vice president technical services at Foster Farms, said: "We've achieved these results by taking a multi-hurdle approach that attacks Salmonella wherever it can present itself – at the breeder level, on the farm and in the plant. We are actively sharing what we have learned with government officials, the industry and retailers in the interest of helping to create a safer food supply across the nation."
David Acheson, former Chief Medical Officer of the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service and Associate Commissioner for Foods at FDA, who has advised Foster Farms as a member of its Food Safety Advisory Board added: "I have worked with many companies on food safety issues and it is always gratifying to work with a company like Foster Farms that is willing to devote the time and resources to becoming a world leader in food safety."
Senator Feinstein also addressed food safety in her provided remarks, calling on the rest of the poultry industry to follow in Foster Farms' path.
Senator Feinstein said: "I think it is fair to say that the rise of Salmonella and Campylobacter has become a huge concern in recent years. I have a willing and cooperative partner in Foster Farms. Currently the industry-wide prevailing rate of Salmonella is around 25 per cent. In the past year, Foster Farms has worked tirelessly to achieve less than five per cent. So it is my hope that the rest of the industry and USDA follow suit."
Speaking to nearly 150 invited dignitaries, community and business leaders, and Foster Farms employees, Foster recounted the beginning of the family owned company in 1939.
Ron Foster, President and CEO, Foster Farms said: "My grandparents began our company at a time when the Great Depression still held the nation and this valley in its grips. They did not have a recipe for success – only hard work, grit and a simple promise to produce a quality product that they could be proud of. Our company has grown to what it is today because we have always honoured that simple promise and remained committed to quality. In animal welfare, food safety and in meeting the needs of an ever-growing number of consumers, our commitment is unwavering."
Earlier in the day, the company was honoured with a resolution presented by US Representatives Jim Costa and David Valadao, a proclamation presented by California State Senator Tom Berryhill (R-Twain Harte) and State Assemblymembers Adam Gray (D-Merced) and Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto), and certificates of recognition presented by Stanislaus County Supervisors Vito Chiesa and Dick Monteith and Merced County Supervisor John Pedrozo.
Mr Foster concluded the programme by saying, "I believe the next 75 years hold even greater promise for us all."ThePoultrySite News Desk