Recently we toured the JBS Meat Packing Plant in Souderton, PA. This facility processes nearly 2,000 head of cattle per day – from slaughter to packaging to distribution. Hundreds of employees work at a rate of approximately 225 head/hour. The plant is set up to run dairy cows as well as fed cattle; we observed both during our day-long visit. JBS has a complex monitoring program that balances sterilization with prevention of contamination. More interestingly, the plant has instituted a remote video auditing system wherein managers, inspectors, and thirdparty auditors can observe operations more thoroughly. I was surprised at how closely the USDA inspectors work with the employees and managers each day. I met 5 USDA inspectors, including 2 veterinarians. One veterinarian worked on food safety while the other focused on humane handling of cattle during holding and slaughter. All inspectors and managers were very passionate about their job and take food safety and animal welfare very seriously.
Interestingly, over 12% of the meat in this area grades prime, while the industry average of prime meat is less than 2%. YUM! JBS is the supplier for Wendy’s hamburger patties, so naturally we stopped at the nearest Wendy’s for a fresh beef patty at the end of the day.
Like many of my experiences so far, I was not allowed to take pictures. So, I have only the greeting we received at the front entrance attached. But, these are some of the great people from the Senate staff that I get to work with on both the majority and the minority side! We had lengthy discussions with USDA staff regarding food recalls, including the most recent one in MI and the very publicized one in Germany. The people here on the Ag Committee staff are extremely dedicated to their job and very knowledgeable in all aspects of government, food safety, and agriculture.