Ground turkey production has resumed at Cargill’s meat processing facility in Springdale, Ark., after the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved an enhanced food safety plan. The company suspended ground turkey production after voluntary recalls in August and September.
Due to the resumption of ground turkey production, Cargill has brought back approximately 50 employees who were part of an early-October, 130-person layoff. More than 70 people had already been called back to work as job openings in other parts of the facility occurred.
During the past three months, Cargill food safety scientists have explored possible solutions to reduce the risk from Salmonella in ground turkey. According to Steve Willardsen, president of Cargill value added meats retail: “No stone has been left unturned as we searched for answers to help us improve food safety.”
One of four ground turkey production lines has been reactivated at Springdale and the other three will be reactivated over the coming weeks as part of a multiphase ramp-up of production at Springdale. To reach this point, Cargill took the following actions:
• Completed reassessment and overhaul of the facility’s food safety plan;
• Implemented several new food safety measures, including more and better bacterial reduction steps throughout the process;
• Created a three-phase ground turkey sampling and monitoring program; and,
• Used high pressure processing to reduce Salmonella.
Development of an enhanced process control monitoring system to ensure all aspects of the company’s Salmonella control program are continuously generating the best possible results, according to a company news release. A phased approach to resumption of ground turkey production will ensure Cargill’s enhancements to its food safety program are working as designed. As a federally inspected meat processing facility, USDA food safety inspectors will be present during all ground turkey production.
Cargill also is working with a number of university, government and private researchers to accelerate the development of new technologies that have shown promise for commercial application.
“Our quest for the safest food products possible is never ending,” said Willardsen. “With the collective knowledge, experience and capabilities we’ve tapped to find solutions, we are confident in our ability to better ensure the safest ground turkey products available for consumers. We are also very pleased to be able to bring people back to work during this holiday season.”