Monday, May 05, 2008

In Case You Didn't See...

"286,000 Pounds of Meat, Poultry Recalled by N.Y. Company" according to an Associated Press article that I read on FoxNews.com. This is just another recall in the American food industry and reinforces the fact that food recalls are becoming more and more common. Although there is one thing that makes this recall different than the recent Hallmark beef recall. The beef recall was because of handling of the cattle when they were still alive, while this one seems to be about contamination that could/did happen in processing.

The company Gourmet Boutique, that supplies a little food to Super Target stores, makes many different types of processed poultry foods (chicken salads, burritos, etc.) and it seems that the listeriosis bacteria that was found by the USDA entered the food in the processing step. Once again the USDA did help find the problem, but if 286,000 pounds have already made it to the stores one could say that it is a little too late. According to the article a recorded message that you get when calling Gourmet Boutique says that they have made "environmental changes" at their plants ... ahh, good to know that they made changes after they got caught!

This article isn't surprising, new, or even mind boggling because we have seen it all before, but it did make me think. Are we better off getting our food (particularly poultry in this case) from on farm processing or small abattoirs? This is a point that Joel Salatin has been arguing for quite some time now and he is probably on to something.

I am not sure how much poultry we are going to raise on the farm for selling because it seems like there are quite a few small farm/direct marketing poultry folks around here, but if I did I would seriously consider on farm processing. What do you think?

Oh yeah, I think I should point out that if you head of to the Gourmet Boutique website you will find that they advertise their food as the "natural choice" because they don't use preservatives.

2 comments:

Dave_Flora said...

Ethan,

(Back from vacation!) It's interesting that you would post this right now. For my 40th birthday present, my wife took me to a local pastured poultry/salad bar beef operation to see it first hand. The couple running it were very successful, and were wonderfully enthusiastic about the possibilities. They were also raising thousands of birds, taking to a processing facility and marketing them directly. I'm halfway through Joel's "Pasturized Poultry Profits", and read across the chapter where he discusses processing them on-farm, and it gave me much to consider. When I started imagining slaughtering hundreds to chickens a month, the thing that struck me wasn't the act of killing the chickens...we owe it to our food to be involved in that part...but the numbers. A small, homestead that raises 20 or so broilers for themselves and a few to sell is one thing, but when you get into the processing of hundreds (or thousands?), it starts to feel like you're trying to imitate a factory. As in all cases, the idea behind raising chickens for food isn't a bad one..it's the scale that makes things turn evil. It got me thinking about raising fewer chickens and cooking them into some kind of ready-to-eat, value-added product instead of just selling them to people. I'm also interested in raising more heritage breeds to chickens, which goes against the "production by the numbers" game.
So, if you're going to be small, definitely process the broilers on the farm. You'll be more connected to your food, and really produce a quality product. If you're into producing thousands, you'll have to accept that one of these days, you could be reading about your farm in the news, as mass processing has problems.

-Dave

Ethan Book said...

Value adding is always a good thing. The one hurdle is that in ordered to selling a ready-to-eat product would require a certified kitchen (or access to one). On the flip side if you can process a certain amount of chickens on farm with out as much expense.

Of course you wouldn't have to raise as many chickens and you could grow/raise the other ingredients to have some more value added benefit. And, maybe it would pay back fairly quickly?

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