Among our friends is one who is high enough up in the agricultural hierarchy of the United States that his appointment required U.S, Senate confirmation.  He has nothing directly to do with food safety, but is experienced and knowledgeable in the Ag industry.  

We were chatting about the various outbreaks that we’ve seen this year going back to how the animal rights under cover guy with a video camera managed to shut down the Chino slaughterhouse that was one of USDA’s favorite plants for buying beef for the school lunch program.   My friend asked if we knew about the new Dakota Provisions plant in Huron, South Dakota.

He said that outside a Vegas casino, there probably is not a facility in the country that has more video cameras aimed at itself and they are watched by a third party all in the interest in of food safety.   From reading their websites, its appears that Dakota Provisions in Huron, and the Maple Leaf Foods plant on Bartor Road in Toronto turn out much the same products–sliced deli meats that are consumed cold and must be protected from listeria contamination.

Before re-opening last week after its $20 million recall last week, Maple Leaf took a variety of steps including: “Slicing equipment has been completely disassembled and deep cleaned and tested multiple times. Slicing equipment across the Company is subject to daily disassembly prior to daily cleaning and regularly scheduled intensive disassembly to verify elimination of potential harborage points, well beyond industry standards.”

As the first new plant of its kind in 20 years, Dakota Provisions claims  “not only meeting regulatory demands, but exceeding them.  Here are just a few of the unique features that set us apart:

  • Segregated Raw & Cooked Areas with no transition available between areas
  • Separate employee-entrances, lunchrooms, locker rooms
  • Separate maintenance and repair areas
  • Pest Prevention landscaping
  • Controlled atmosphere stunning
  • 3 Stage Scald System
  • Evisceration Vacuum System
  • General plant layout to minimize product handling
  • Unique Drain Design
  • Positive Air Movement
  • Efficient Lighting Systems
  • Micro Resistant Wall & Floor Surfaces
  • Independent Slicing Rooms
  • Extensive Food Safety Training
  • Video monitoring system
  • Computerized Product Tracking
  • Program to verify employee eligibility with involvement of the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration

Two companies.   To date, there have 48 confirmed cases and nine suspected cases of listeriosis connected to the “Maple Leaf” strain. Listeriosis was the underlying cause of death in 18 of those confirmed cases and is suspected in seven other cases. 

Dakota Provisions has made such a clean start,  we’d never heard of it!