At BPI, our commitment to food safety impacts everything we do. We've invested and re-invested in our facilities in order to make sure we are always able to produce the highest quality and safest lean beef possible. We set a higher standard for ourselves than anyone else would require. Our values demand that even if something isn't broke, we're still going to improve it.
Our food safety efforts start before we even receive beef from our suppliers. We partner with the best beef producers in the world to help us make our lean beef. All of the beef that comes into our plants is fresh and USDA inspected. We only purchase beef from suppliers who have proven/validated food safety systems in place to assure the safety and quality of the beef we purchase from them. We've designed and built our facilities with attention to every food safety related detail. Then, we operate them to the standards we set for ourselves, including use of the most effective food safety "interventions".
Even though a consumer's potential exposure to harmful bacteria, particularly E. coli O157:H7, is remote – we are dedicated to ensuring that our lean beef is free of such harmful bacteria and pathogens. We design food safety systems to include validated and government approved interventions to help eliminate or reduce any potentially harmful bacteria.
Integrity of Our Facilities
Examples of our commitment to food safety are evident the moment you walk into one of our facilities. Even outside our food production areas, all floor and wall mounted items are separated from the surfaces with "stand offs," making it possible to clean behind, under, and around everything. Conveyor belts used to transport the fresh beef are equipped with spray misters allowing for continuous sanitation of the belts during production. Even floor drains come equipped with sanitizers.
Even the air in our facilities gets treated. At the South Sioux City location, we designed a system that allows the outside air to be washed, refrigerated, and sanitized before ever entering the room where food is being processed. The chilled air creates positive air pressure that, we believe, helps prevent potentially contaminated air from entering the processing area. And all equipment is designed with clean-in-place sanitation systems that allow them to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.
One of BPI's essential tools in assuring the safety and quality of our lean beef is our extensive "hold and test" program. After all other food safety steps have been taken and systems monitored to assure lean beef quality, we want to make sure we got it right. Continuously through the day, our Quality Assurance staff is taking samples of the lean beef from every box we make. Those samples are sent to independent, outside laboratories for testing. These tests can include everything from generic bacterial counts to identification of specific bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7.
Our sampling and testing program is the most rigorous in the industry, assuring consumers and customers of the safety and quality of BPI Boneless Lean Beef. Using computer tracking systems, we are able to match up all laboratory test results precisely with the lean beef from which samples were taken. We hold all of our lean beef at the plant until we get confirmation from the laboratories that all specifications have been met, including a negative result for E. coli O157:H7. Only then will we allow BPI Boneless Lean Beef to be sold.
Our hold and test program assures us of the safety and quality of the lean beef we sell. The program also plays an important role in helping us make improvements. Hold and test programs provide very valuable information for continuous improvement of our processes. For instance, we trend data from the hold and test programs and use that data to continually assess and improve our food safety systems across all our plants.
Another important innovation is BPI's pH enhancement process, which relies upon slightly increasing the level of ammonium hydroxide already present in beef in order to elevate its pH. By combining a very small amount (measured in parts per million) of ammonia gas with the naturally occurring moisture in beef, we produce ammonium hydroxide. Ammonium hydroxide is naturally found in beef and used in the processing of numerous foods, such as baked goods, cheeses, gelatins, chocolate, caramels, and puddings. One result of this food safety system is the dramatic reduction in the number of potential pathogens that may be present in foods, such as E. coli O157:H7.
Ammonia is naturally occurring and can be found in all life forms, from plants to animals to humans. Ammonia based compounds are used extensively in the production of a wide range of food and beverages. The following academic and industry research details the vital role ammonia plays in our daily lives as well as the numerous food and beverages that contain this essential material:
Quality Comes Through in the Taste
In study after study, taste panel after taste panel, consumers have consistently shown a preference for ground meat and other products made from BPI ingredients. A taste panel (Link SDSU Consumer Rating Study from 2004) conducted on our behalf by South Dakota State University confirms why our lean beef is a preferred ground beef ingredient.