Thursday, November 15, 2007

USDA Meat Inspection - Recent Events

Recently, an article in the Washington Post described the plight of a small farm near Charlottesville that was selling uninspected pork products. They also were using Certified Organic labels without authorization. The real irony here is that most of the food borne contaminants such as ecoli are coming from the industrial food system, certainly not from small farms. The Beans at Double H Farm in Charlottesville were butchering their pork on the farm. Even though small farms have been butchering their own pork safely for generations for their own use, this is clearly not permitted when the meat is to be resold. As far as the organic certification, most producers have simply dropped it due to the cost of the regulation and because of the fact that its nearly impossible to verify that any purchased feed is truly "organic". There was another story last June in Britain where 89% of "organic" chickens were contaminated. So just because organic feed was used, there is no assurance that the processing was done cleanly. For grass based operations, feed is less of a consideration anyway. Joel Salatin has been processing poultry on the farm for 2 decades without incident while there have been countless incidents of problems with commercial chicken. While meat products are not our leading farm products, I wanted to do this post to clear the air in light of recent news items and any future news stories you might hear related to meat processing and small farms. Our beef is currently processed, and our first lamb will be processed next year, at a USDA inspected facility, Emrick's Meat & Packing Co south of Hyndman, PA. Their address is 1966 Hyndman Road, Hyndman, PA 15545. Phone 814-842-6779. They also have a small grocery store at the same location. A USDA Inspector is on site at their facility on the days that animals are processed. You should visit them if you have an interest. For chicken, its not as strict. There are exemptions for small producers, 3000 birds in VA and 1000 birds in WV and on farm processing is permitted. However, we have not gone that route. Our poultry is processed at Berry Blossom Farm in Waynesboro, PA. This is a smaller scale Amish run commercial poultry processing facility and we transport the birds there. Their address is 14116 Hollowell Church Road, Waynesboro, PA 17268. Phone: 717.597.4945 Again, if you have an interest you should visit them. The you can visit a large poultry factory, and contrast the difference. So, I hope this fully documents any processing that our farm has done for meat products. Most people, except for enlightened consumers that seek local producers, don't even want to be confronted with food processing facts. They just want to see the meat products in their cellophane containers. But if you do have an interest, you should have access to all the facts related to the processing. As far as our farm, I've outlined all of the pertinent facts here but if you ever have any questions, just ask.