animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we’ve got to do it right. We’ve got to
give those animals a decent life and we’ve got to give them a painless death. We owe
the animal respect.” Her designs for processing facilities serve to decrease stress in
the animal prior to slaughter.
Researchers, Grandin among them, have drawn conclusive links that animal stress
preslaughter produces many quality defects in meat. Defects such as bruises, blood
clots and blood splash are often caused by injury prior to processing. When herd
animals become agitated, they can often panic others, leading to kicking, gouging
and biting. Improper animal control can also lead to crowding, with animals often
pushing one another against fences.
Body chemicals generated through periods of great stress also have a direct correlation to negative changes in muscular tissue. Ideally, a calm, well-rested animal
has high levels of glycogen, a sugar found
in muscle that produces lactic acid post-slaughter. Preslaughter distress consumes this
sugar, causing reduced lactic acid levels. This
chemical reaction is responsible for major
meat defects such as dark, firm, dry (DFD)
and pale, soft, exudative (PSE). DFD is found
primarily in sheep and cattle when decreased
lactic acid levels raise the pH. This can lead
to a dark, unpleasant color and unacceptable
flavor notes. Extreme anxiety in pigs may lead
to PSE, which results in lighter-colored meat,
which has trouble retaining moisture during
cooking and also may lead to decreased flavor.
The resultant reduced glycogen levels lower
yields and shorten shelf life by increasing
spoilage (lactic acid retards microbial growth),
which creates unnecessary food waste.
Studies have shown a marked decrease in
these negative meat attributes in animals handled humanely. Preventive measures,
such as redesigned corrals and entry tunnels, have been added to much of the country’s processing facilities to reduce injury.
11 The meat industry has done a remarkable
job embracing animal welfare practices, much of which is self-regulated through
global standards and third-party audits.
12 Customers often make animal welfare programs a mandatory part of their vendor management policies, requiring their suppliers to have animal welfare audits in addition to the more traditional FSQ audits.
Clean Labeling: Does It Cause More Food Waste and Increased
What is more alarming than reports of poisonous substances in baby food?
There’s been a trend of sensational studies in the media, many of which have been
13 which have shifted consumer focus, once again, to examining food
labels. This time, they are analyzing ingredient statements, and much of the public
does not like what they’ve found. The decades-old demand for organic, minimally
processed foods has morphed into a true concern about hidden ingredients. Artificial colors, flavors and preservatives (really any chemical-sounding name) are the
new four-letter words of social media forums.
U.S. companies are scrambling to find natural alternatives to artificial colors.
The fact remains that many natural colors are not as bright or long-lasting as their
artificial counterparts. Americans like the sound of natural ingredients, but will they
stand for brown strawberry syrup or a product that has a reduced shelf life? Con-
sumers have a high standard for aesthetically pleasing, long-shelf-life, convenient
products that require short preparation.
The public doesn’t seem ready to
hear that preservatives are necessary in
some foods when there is no acceptable
natural alternative. There has been a
push to utilize alternative technologies such as high-pressure processing
and ultrahigh-temperature pasteurization to grant that extra level of food
safety. Some supply chains have been
completely reformatted, going from an
ambient-temperature to a refrigerated
product in the hopes of extending shelf
life, sustaining quality and increasing
the certainty of safety.
In truth, no one is sure about the
long-term ramifications of these initiatives, which have spurred many companies to reexamine legacy formulas
and find new ways to ensure robustness
(lowering pH and water activity, utilizing safer ingredients and new processing
technologies) in the absence of certain
chemical ingredients. This is a good
thing, but it still remains to be seen if
we see an uptick in foodborne illness
outbreaks due to riskier formulation. As
discussed above, it’s fairly certain that
with a reduction in shelf life, we’ll be
seeing more expired products make their
way from pantry shelves into landfills.
Water Conservation: Can It
initiatives have evolved,
Decrease Facility Microflora?
Facilities that begin a sustainability
program often start with water conserva-
tion. It’s amazing how many little drips
and leaks are collectively found around
a large manufacturing plant, especially
one that utilizes water in its process. Wa-
ter audits often take the form of kaizen
events (a series of small events attended
by department leaders) that seek to iden-
tify and rectify dozens of plant leaks
that often go undetected during normal
operations. These may even extend to
the annex buildings and surrounding
grounds. The goal of these kaizen ac-
tivities is realized over time when their
accumulated effects lead to annualized
cost savings in utility bills and relief to
wastewater treatment plants.
The next facet to these water con-
servation efforts is often reducing water
and today, many