Region: The Americas
US meat products’ global competitive advantage underpinned by strict food safety practices
Dubai, UAE, 4 May 2019: Strict standards related to food safety practices uphold the quality associated with meat products from the United States, said Dan Halstrom, President and CEO, US Meat Export Federation. “We have to ensure there is confidence in the quality and safety of our products, which we spend a lot of time on,” he said. “I would argue that the food production system in the US and globally is improving every day. I think the US is definitely at the forefront, where we put our products against anybody in the world.” Halstrom said that, as such, there are strict protocols related to temperature monitoring and the cold chain, which do not allow for variations in temperature throughout the process, starting from the slaughter to fabrication, and from handling to distribution.
Halstrom said that from his observations of the members of the Meat Exporters’ Federation, the companies are focused on doing things the right way by implementing internal quality standards, in terms of training and complying with international shipping standards. This, he said, also extends to integration of sophisticated monitoring systems. Halstrom explained that meat products are shipped either frozen or chilled. “In the case of frozen meat, it’s flash-frozen immediately,” he said. “In the case of chilled [products], it’s maintained in a vacuum-packed form at a very constant temperature, usually around 0 degrees Celsius, all the way to the end consumer, be it in Japan, Korea or a lot of other markets that take chilled beef.”
Similarly, Halstrom said strict monitoring protocols are implemented in inland trucks that travel across states, as well as in vessels, which are responsible for a lot of distribution in the country through major inlets, such as in the Mississippi River, Missouri River and in the Gulf of Mexico. He added that most monitoring systems are computerised and accurate down to a variation of one degree Celsius. The real-time monitoring offered by sophisticated computerised systems, he said, ensures reliability.
Halstrom said that although he believes there is high degree of awareness among US meat exports on the importance of a strong cold chain, it is important to continuously educate the market on best practices in this regard. “It is important in our domestic business,” he said. “And it is even more important in our international business. Our organisation, almost everything we do in some way, shape or form is about education.” This, he said, is what sets meat products from the US apart from other products in the marketplace.