Food Safety Standards Allow Consumers to Shop with Confidence
How much do large companies care about food safety? With a food-safety team comparable in size to a small village, Tyson Foods places a strong focus on ensuring the safest food possible for consumers.
Around 2,500 employees at Tyson Foods make food safety their job, representing an entire division devoted to the safety and quality of its food products. Like other large food companies throughout the United States, Tyson Foods works to meet global food safety standards, sweeping new U.S. food safety regulations, and even its own safety and quality goals. Food safety inspectors with the U.S. Department of Agriculture station themselves, often full time, at Tyson plants during every production shift. And up to two dozen inspectors work in the largest, most complex Tyson operations.
See More: What is FSMA?
“I believe that food is safer today than it’s ever been in the history of the earth,” says Dr. Scott Stillwell, senior vice president of Food Safety & Quality Assurance at Tyson Foods. “When we take the collective learnings of all the generations that preceded us and apply our modern technology and science, it’s given us a tremendous advantage in producing safe food for the world.”
Safety Checks and Balances
Tyson Foods offers a wide variety of proteins and prepared food products under more than 25 labels to domestic and international customers, including grocery stores and restaurant operators. The company operates three facilities in Illinois: one beef processing plant in Joslin in Rock Island County, a further processed beef facility in Chicago, and a research and development center in Downers Grove in DuPage County. That said, when Illinois shoppers buy Tyson products, they may be supporting a local farmer. In 2016, Tyson purchased more than $380 million worth of livestock and poultry from Illinois farmers.
[infobox alignment=”right” title=”Fight BAC!”]
Prevent illness-causing bacteria (BAC) by following four core principles in your kitchen:
1. CLEAN. Wash hands and surfaces often.
2. SEPARATE. Don’t cross-contaminate.
3. COOK. Cook foods to safe temperatures.
4. CHILL. Refrigerate promptly. [/infobox]
From the farm to your fork, Tyson Foods takes food safety seriously. Every month, Tyson’s Food Safety & Laboratory Services Network performs more than 280,000 tests at its 18 labs around the country to ensure safety, Stillwell says. He says the company also uses third-party food-safety audits as a system of checks and balances to prevent harmful bacteria from reaching the consumer. Meanwhile, globally recognized practices, including the Global Food Safety Initiative, create a framework for Tyson employees to follow every day.
Throughout its facilities, Tyson Foods fosters a culture that puts safety first. That mantra starts at the farm, works its way through Tyson and its distributors, and ends with consumer consciousness at home.
“We have practices and measures in place at every part of the food supply chain to ensure our food products are safe and secure,” Stillwell says. “We help train our customers, including grocery stores and restaurant operators, in proper food safety handling, especially in the areas of temperature control and sanitation.
“For consumers, we offer many tools and resources to help them safely prepare and serve our products once they get them home.”
A consumer’s responsibility with food safety begins with the sack of groceries in hand.
Tyson Foods offers information on its website, tysonfoods.com, to help home cooks safely store, prepare, cook and serve their products. The company also encourages home cooks to “Fight BAC!” The Partnership for Food Safety Education program encourages four core practices to prevent illness-causing bacteria (BAC): Clean hands and surfaces frequently; separate to avoid cross-contamination; cook to safe temperatures; and chill promptly.
“Food safety is very important to every team member at Tyson Foods,” Stillwell says. “We create food products for consumers across the globe, including our own families. We work hard every day to ensure that our products are safe at every part of our supply chain.”