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If chicken and rice is one of your favorite go-to comfort dishes, you might want to send a thank you note to Arkansas. The alluring land of the scenic, rugged Ozarks, some 2,000 dazzling underworld limestone caves, and soothing hot springs ranks number two in the nation in broiler production and number one in rice.
Arkansas is actually the only state ranked in the top 10 for all three categories of broiler, turkey, and egg production, according to the Poultry Federation, a trade association that supports the poultry and egg industries in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.
Chicken and Rice Dinner
Tyson Foods, Inc. is doing its part to contribute to your favorite chicken and rice recipe, as well as to the strengths of Arkansas food safety and beyond, says Suzanne Finstad, MS, the company’s vice president of food safety and regulatory compliance. Based in Springdale, Ark., Tyson is one of the world’s largest producers of meat and poultry, reporting fiscal year 2015 sales of $40.6 billion. Some 128,000 head of beef, 401,000 head of hogs, and 35 million chickens were processed weekly by Tyson in 2015, totaling a whopping 68 million pounds of product per week last year.
More than 4,000 independent farmers have contracts to raise chickens for Tyson Foods, which includes more than 1,700 in the state of Arkansas, Finstad reports. Tyson also operates 15 food processing plants in Arkansas.
“Tyson Foods is an industry leader in terms of food safety and analytics,” Finstad boasts. “We take pride in the fact that our programs have been recognized by regulatory authorities as best practices and, in some cases, even referenced as examples in published compliance guidance.”
One such example of this, Finstad notes, is Tyson’s trademarked Sentinel Site Program for microbiological monitoring of the ready-to-eat (RTE) processing environment.
“The Sentinel Site Program is a rigorous environmental microbiological surveillance program we launched in 1999, well before the regulatory requirements of 9 CFR §430 were promulgated,” Finstad relates.
She says that the Sentinel Site Program is designed as an on-going verification of the hazard analysis regarding the potential for post-processing contamination of RTE products with Listeria monocytogenes (Lm).
“Specifically, it represents an ongoing assessment of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan and the conclusion that post-processing contamination of RTE products with Lm is not a hazard reasonably likely to occur,” Finstad explains. “This conclusion is justified by the data previously collected, which demonstrates that food contact surfaces are not harboring Lm. These data continue to be collected and analyzed to assess the ongoing potential for this hazard to occur.”
According to Finstad, data are collected through the Sentinel Site Program on a weekly basis from food contact surfaces, non-food contact surfaces, as well as indirect-food contact surfaces in all of Tyson’s RTE manufacturing facilities.
“If and when a surface returns a positive test result for Listeria spp., an investigation is conducted and corrective actions are taken before the line is eligible to resume production,” Finstad says. “Once production has resumed, the surface is subject to intensified monitoring for Listeria spp. to confirm that a harborage does not exist. In the event that any surface on the production line returns a positive test result for Listeria spp. concurrent with this intensified monitoring, we immediately reassess the HACCP plan and incorporate a critical control point for the control of Lm. In the event that test results necessitate finished product testing for Lm, a robust sampling plan is employed. This sampling plan is based upon International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods criteria for a severe hazard.”