The owners and management at Fieldale Farms, a private label manufacturer and food service supplier of poultry products, operate on an essential concept: Continuous investment in employees and in the latest technology yields success. Following through on that concept has earned Fieldale Farms the 8th Annual Food Quality Award, sponsored by DuPont Qualicon (Wilmington, Del.) and presented by Food Quality magazine.
The panel of judges for this year’s award chose Fieldale Farms Further Processing Division, headquartered in Baldwin, Ga., based on the company’s “impressive efforts” in enhancing food quality and safety. One judge remarked: “Fieldale Farms Further Processing Division has made substantial investments in facility infrastructure, equipment, technology, and personnel. Their results demonstrate improvements in finances, customer satisfaction, and environmental impact, as well as improvement in quality and safety. … There is a constant theme throughout their submission and a clear commitment to continuous improvement over time.”
To download an abridged version of Fieldale Farms award-winning submission, click here.
That commitment to continuous improvement was recognized at an awards ceremony April 28 at the Food Safety Summit in Washington, D.C. The award was co-presented by Marcos Cantharino, global sales and marketing director at DuPont Qualicon, and Rick Biros, former publisher of Food Quality. “We’re honored to recognize superb achievements in the food industry because we believe in our responsibility to promote a culture of food safety and quality around the world,” Luiz Fischmann, global marketing manager at DuPont Qualicon, said in a statement.
The award ceremony, which was held at the Washington Convention Center’s Keynote Theater, began with a reception attended by over 300 people. Following the reception, Craig Wilson, assistant vice president and general merchandising manager of food safety and quality assurance for Costco Wholesale Corporation, delivered the keynote address, in which he discussed how companies can fight to ensure food safety in these tough economic times.
Food Safety, Quality Expand
A key event in Fieldale’s fight for food safety came in 2006, when the company invested in a 160,000-square foot expansion to grow its fully cooked product line. The expansion incorporated the latest food quality and safety technology into the building design—from the type of air filter systems chosen to the color-coded flooring installed to the design of the shipping and receiving docks, according to Dan White, PhD, food safety and quality assurance manager at Fieldale Farms Further Processing Division.
“The expansion was built with food safety in mind at every step,” added Blake Wikle, plant manager. “Our investments include insulated metal walls and ceilings, solid welded freezer panels, and magnetic locking doors to restrict employee access to fully cooked areas. These are a few examples in a long list of upgrades that are not typical in most poultry plants.”
Specific product investments included a Volta belting system implemented in the ready-to-eat product transfer zones. Volta belting is a nonabsorbent, ISO 90002-certified, smooth surface continuous belting made of thermoplastic elastomers, according to Dr. White. The belting is easy to clean, remove, and install and is scratch resistant—all features that prevent the product from harboring bacteria. What’s more, because the Volta belting system is constructed of medium- to lightweight belts, Fieldale Farms was able to remove a portion of the structure that supported the conventional belting previously used.