Bird flu, botulism, e-Col i, salmonella, food terrorists … what’s happening to my America?
Are we heading for a major food poisoning outbreak by eating food? Is Doom’s Day near? Well take a deep breath, and listen very carefully to what I ‘m about to say. NO, NO, NO and NO.
I would like to share a trip I made recently to prove my point. My wife and I were on a trout fishing trip in Clarksville, Ga., staying with some friends. While I was there, I cooked for the family and some friends one night. During the evening, one of the guests came to me and asked if I would consider taking a tour of his food plant, which was nearby and possibly give him some culinary ideas. I told him I would be happy to. I later found out they had done a security and background check on me before I was asked to tour the plant.
The facility is closed to the public due to strict security. My friend had set this all up to surprise me beforehand, knowing I would like to tour the plant. The company was the Fieldale Farms Corp., the largest producer of cut chicken in the world. The packs of cut up chicken that you see in Publix and Winn-Dixie are just a few of their products.
The tour began with a brief introduction by the CEO. I was then given a personal security detail to take me through the plant. We entered the clean room and given a smock, rubber bootees up to the knee and a hospital hair covering. She used a remote control device to open a door to the wash room as we walked in a disinfectant form sprayed across the floor. We walked through this suds to the sinks, which were foot activated. She watched as I washed my hands for one minute with antiseptic soap and then I rinsed my hands with an antiseptic solution. I was given sleeve covers, which went from my wrist to elbow and then gloves to overlap the wrist.
She activated the exit door, and we entered a long corridor first walking through another antiseptic foam spray. This process would be repeated several times as we entered each department. Nowhere could you smell poultry. It is the cleanest facility I have ever seen.
They process chicken from eggs to fried chicken tenders. All chicks are sprayed with an antibacterial growth agent. The feeding sheds are large to prevent overcrowding and stress on the chickens, resulting in a bigger and tender product. The Human Society of America has awarded them a Best Practice Award the last three years. All employees are required to go through the same procedures I had followed. All poultry is X-rayed and run through a metal detector before packaging.
The cutting tool is a high speed water jet, which slices like a knife and can be programmed for any size or shape. Human hands never touch the product and it moved from one area to another by pneumatic plastic tubes and conveyor belts to box. At every stage the product is tested for temperature and bacteria count.
This company is an example of what is happening in America’s beef, poultry, and pork companies. Across the country, food manufactures are initiating these procedures. Is our food safe?
For those naysayers who state food was safer when I was young or back in the good old days, well the good old days weren’t so good. In the early 1900s, people lived to the average ripe old age of 50. Hot dogs we full of mystery meat. Today we have truth in labeling and sanitation policies that are the envy of the world. Is it perfect? No, but it is better than in any time of our history. Speaking of chicken … try this recipe.
8 pieces of cut chicken with bone; mix it up dark and white
¾ cups melted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons oregano leaves
2 cloves of fresh garlic cleaned and minced small
2 cups chicken stock
The juice from two fresh lemons
2 baking potatoes cut lengthwise cut in four pieces each
1 cup red onion sliced
1 cup celery, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 cup carrots, cut in 1 inch pieces
Place celery, onion and carrot on bottom of a shallow roasting pan. Pour chicken stock over vegetables. In a bowl, coat all chicken parts and potatoes with the olive oil and butter mixture, place chicken parts and potatoes in shallow roasting pan with vegetables. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Sprinkle garlic and oregano over all chicken. Cook at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until chicken is golden brown and potatoes are soft.
Costa Magoulas is dean of the Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality and Culinary Management at Daytona State College. Contact him at (386) 506-3578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.