First American Foods, Inc.

FOOD SAFETY - First American Foods

How Do You Know Your Food Is Safe?

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Many consumers seek the answer to a very basic question, "Is my food safe?" In this page we will help you reach an objective understanding of conventional Food Safety and Grading. We hope to make clear the difference between food health and food hysteria.
You can put your trust in First American Foods.


Food Safety · Grading · Organic Programs

For your dining pleasure First American Foods features a large variety of the juiciest, most delicious cuts of Beef.  We offer hand selected, all natural, minimally processed aged USDA Prime and USDA Top Choice Beef.  We feature mid-western Angus Beef that is corn and grain fed so that our customers will enjoy rich, mouth-watering flavor with every tender bite.

Safety -100% of our Beef cuts are federally inspected and processed under the very stringent HACCP scientific system established by the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the USDA to assure our customers the highest standard in food safety.  We take this same time and care with each of our product offerings.  Many consumers purchase their meats from the neighborhood butcher and grocery stores or even from large supermarket chains.  At the local level it is a very rare establishment that is willing to incur the expense of both having a federal inspector present on the premises at all times during operations and complying with the Food Safety and Inspection Service's HAACP program.  An eye opening test for consumers would be to determine if any of its local markets has an inspector on the premises at all times during operations. 

Food Safety - Head and Shoulders Above the Rest As part of First American Foods pre-screening process, we require each vendor that processes beef, poultry, pork, lamb or seafood for us to be enrolled in and comply with the USDA's scientific HACCP (Hazardous Analysis at Critical Control Points) program.  This is a program designed to analyze, measure, control and record every step and process in the production of food to reduce and eliminate pathogens.  It is an extremely rigorous process that is constantly evaluated.  This includes random, unannounced inspections and periodic reviews not only for conformity, but also for improvement in methodology, equipment and processes.  In addition to the stringent HACCP standards, FAF conducts its own random sampling and inspection and independent lab testing.  Attention to details such as the 4 to 9 mil thick film we specify for wrapping each item protects not only its palatability, but also serves as a barrier to pathogens just as the 4 to 5 inch thick insulated walls we require in our vehicles helps ensure our products' integrity. It is these measured, carefully administered programs which make our products the healthiest and safest available.

Example:  Pre-Operational Inspection - The following is a summary of just one step in a supplier's HACCP program for just one operation in just one cutting room.

At the end of every day's production the entire production room is washed down.  Cleaning procedures are performed in the following order: 1) every piece of equipment is thoroughly wet down, 2) each piece is then thoroughly washed in a manner prescribed by the USDA and using only USDA approved detergents, 3) once completely cleaned each piece is rinsed a minimum of two times, 4) after rinsing each piece receives an application of a USDA approved sanitizer.  A special form is then filled out at the start of every day to verify the prior day's wash down.  This confirms the date and time of the sanitation verification along with the name of the person performing the inspection.  Every piece of equipment used for processing and all areas directly related to production are included on this form.  If at any time anything is found which does not meet approved standards, it is noted and the equipment must be re-cleaned, re-inspected and re-verified before the start of operation.  

Then, prior to any product entering this room, the work space must be inspected and maintained according to a number of criteria.  Before any workers can enter the room and begin work, they are required to check equipment, garments and sanitation according to a prescribed, approved set of standards.  During the cutting operations, at predetermined intervals, conditions that might affect food safety are reviewed against set maximum, do-not-exceed limits.  Testing is done to ensure the operation is within approved tolerances.

Ongoing Reviews: 

HACCP planning also includes ongoing analysis to determine factors and conditions that could affect food safety within the operation.  Key among those conditions is the temperature - both of the product and the equipment and areas coming in contact with the product.  With respect to the product, a process has been developed that monitors temperatures in order to ensure that the temperature does not favor microbial growth.  Each type of separate product produced is analyzed independently and the process pinpoints the steps in which a product's temperature can enter a "danger zone" (41º F).  

Specific procedures are set up for each classification of product.  Classifications are established based on risk assessment.  The four classifications of products are raw not ground cooler, raw not ground processing room, raw trim processing room, raw ground processing room.  Each of these classifications is subject to three rounds of temperature testing each day.  Any non-compliance is noted and immediate action is taken.  Finally, in the event of non-compliance, measures are taken to ensure that it does not recur.  Before any product leaves the plant, each record is reviewed at the close of the production lot and signed by an inspector; only then is that lot's product released for delivery to FAF.  

Grading - To obtain a USDA grade, a business must elect to enroll in the fee based grading program.  Highly qualified, federally trained inspectors then take measurements of the beef and compare them with specific, time-tested standards that have proven to determine the palatability of a particular animal.  The palatability rating encompasses both the age and marbling of the animal.  Under this method, USDA Graded beef may be labeled Prime, Choice or Select.  If the beef does not measure up to the specified standards it is ungraded (no roll). 

Prime and Top Choice - To ensure our customers receive the juiciest, most tender cuts with the best flavor profile, First American Foods carries USDA Prime and top USDA Choice cuts of beef.  These animals have been fed a diet of corn and grain to further enhance flavor and dining enjoyment.

Angus Beef - We also carry Angus, Black Angus Certified and Certified Angus® cuts of beef.  Many experts agree that this breed embodies the most desirable traits in terms of yield, tenderness, palatability, time to maturity and animal health. The Certified Angus® brand includes a specific strain of Angus cattle raised according to a strict regimen.  The program is designed to maximize the amount of Prime and Top Choice animals produced from the herd.

All Natural, Minimally Processed - All of First American Foods' raw meat products are all natural, minimally processed.  This means that neither First American Foods nor any of our processors undertake any steps which modify the fundamental nature of the product.  In poultry products, at no time are any artificial hormones ever administered. 

Organic Programs - More recently the USDA, in conjunction with industry, has developed an organic accreditation program to offer consumers the ability to choose between modern growing techniques and older processes.  This is, of course, in large part a response to the use of genetically modified products (e.g. winter wheat) and concern for more "environmentally friendly" farming methods.  The use of the term "organic" can be confusing.  Current regulations permit the term to be used in the following three ways in food labeling:

USDA Certified Organic - No synthetic ingredients are allowed by law (either administered or ingested through feed).  Also, production processes must meet federal organic standards and must have been independently verified by accredited inspectors.

Organic - At least 95 percent of ingredients are organically produced.  The remainder can be non-organic or synthetic ingredients.

Made with Organic Ingredients - At least 70 percent of ingredients are organic.  The remaining 30 percent must come from the USDA's approved list.

In FAF's organic food program, only products that carry the USDA Certified Organic label are offered.  From the farm to FAF, each step of the process is certified to meet the Federal standards.  Our customers have a selection of Beef, Pork and Poultry cuts.  At this time, organic products are generally not graded for palatability by the USDA.  In addition to open range grazing, beef cattle raised using organic methods are often fed grass and soy products.  That combination tends to promote lean, muscular animals which are not well marbled and thus tougher.  Some consumers find organic meats taste gamey.  Some chefs feel organic meats are not well suited to grilling or other dry heat cooking methods.

 With respect to seafood, the term "organic" is not applied.  FAF offers a selection of both wild and farm raised varieties.  


Spending your money wisely - When to consider organic Pesticides - As quoted in a recent article in Consumer Reports, Joseph Rosen, a professor of food science at Rutgers University, maintains pesticide exposure in conventional fruits and vegetables, "is so low that it's not a health threat."  Based on the evidence available, U.S. consumers are not compromising or risking their health through exposure to pesticides by consuming fruits and vegetables.  Therefore spending money to mitigate that risk is unnecessary.

For those individuals who nevertheless wish to limit the potential cumulative effect of pesticides, they should focus their dollars on the biggest offenders, especially considering the high cost of organic products (50% to 100% higher than conventional). 

Lab testing at the U.S. Department of Agriculture reveals that even after washing, some fruits and vegetables carry higher levels of pesticide residue than do others.  Based on these results, the independent, non-profit organization, Environmental Working Group, designated a "dirty dozen" list of fruits and vegetables which they recommend is the wisest place to spend your dollars if your purpose in buying organic products is to avoid pesticide residues.  The twelve items where your money is best spent are: apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach, and strawberries. (Consumer Reports) 

Hormones - In nature hormones are chemical messengers in all living things that stimulate and inhibit growth, assist with the immune system and regulate the metabolism.  Over 100 hormones have been identified. 

People consume hormones as part of their daily food consumption intake in addition to producing their own natural hormones.  The use of growth promoting hormones has been approved and widely used for raising healthy beef for many decades. The hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are natural hormones found in beef whether or not it has been administered hormones.  For example, according to governmental findings (CAHI), in a 6-ounce beef fillet, an animal treated with hormones will have a level of approximately 3.8 ng (1.3404106e-10 ounces.  A nano-gram is one one-billionth of a gram.  A gram weighs only 3½% of an ounce).  For an untreated animal the level is approximately 2.6 ng.  By contrast, an adult human male produces 136,000 ng of estrogen in a given day.  Even more surprising, many vegetables contain much higher levels of hormones.  Four ounces of cabbage, for example, contains 2,700 ng of estrogen.  Gary Smith, a professor at Colorado State University (Statistical) found that "the estrogen activity in peas, butter, ice cream, wheat germ, and soybean oil can be thousands of times that of beef from cattle implanted with estrogen." 

To learn more about the USDA's Organic Certification Program visit:
http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/indexIE.htm.


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