Independent Meat Company Frequently Asked Questions
- How do we comply with mandatory Country of Origin labeling?
- Are there nitrates and nitrites in your products?
- Do your products contain gluten?
- What is a food allergy?
- Do your products share plants & equipment?
- I’d like some more information and links on the controversial subject of MSG; can you provide some?
- What is USDA Process Verified?
- What is SQF?
- What is sodium erythorbate? Does it come from earthworms?
- Can I get H1N1 from eating pork?
Copies of the final rule and additional information can be found on line at http://www.ams.usda.gov/COOL, published in the Federal Register on January 15, 2009. The Food Safety and Inspection Service amended the Federal Meat and Poultry Products Regulations; 9CFR 317.8(b) and 381.129. The final rule becomes effective on March 16, 2009, which is 60 days after the date of publication.
Independent Food Corporation addressed mCOOL for all covered commodities to comply with the federal standards set forth in the statute as interpreted by the U.S.D.A and willingly complied with the Interim Final Rule in September 2008.
- Covered retail product will be identified by the country of origin on the shipping container label.
- In addition, case ready retail product will bear the country of origin statement on the package label.
- Covered retail product will be identified, by line item, on the shipping manifest and invoice.
- Covered product categories are segregated through production. Appropriate documentation is maintained per statute to provide the required audit trail.
Upon issuance of the final rule, all procedures and practices were reviewed, and no changes were necessary for continued compliance.
For more information, visit these links:
Sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite are not permitted in any kind of fresh pork sausage per USDA regulations. Conversely; cooked, cured meats like hams, hotdogs, pork smoked sausage, bologna and salami products are allowed to contain sodium nitrite. It is considered by USDA as a "restricted ingredient" – which means it is regulated, and is only allowed in very small amounts – that being 200 ppm ingoing. The process of cooking and smoking the cured meat actually uses up the ingoing nitrite – analysis of a finished product that contained 200 ppm nitrite would typically have less than 10 ppm or less after the cooking process.
Many people think nitrites are not good for them. USDA has actually found the opposite to be true - based on available evidence to date, nitrite as used in meat and meat products is considered safe because known benefits outweigh potential risks. In summary, our fresh pork sausages do not contain sodium nitrite and each of our fully cooked cured items do.
Nitrite in meat greatly delays development of botulism, develops cured meat flavor and color, retards development of rancidity and off-odors and off-flavors during storage, inhibits development of warmed-over flavor, and preserves flavors of spices, smoke, etc. Adding nitrite to meat is only part of the curing process. Ordinary table salt (sodium chloride) is added because of its effect on flavor. Sugar is added to reduce the harshness of salt. Spices and other flavorings often are added to achieve a characteristic "brand" flavor. Most, but not all, cured meat products are smoked after the curing process to impart a smoked meat flavor. Sodium nitrite, rather than sodium nitrate, is most commonly used for curing (although in some products, such as country ham, sodium nitrate is used because of the long aging period). In a series of normal reactions, nitrite is converted to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide combines with myoglobin, the pigment responsible for the natural red color of uncured meat. They form nitric oxide myoglobin, which is a deep red color (as in uncooked dry sausage) that changes to the characteristic bright pink normally associated with cured and smoked meat (such as wieners and ham) when heated during the smoking process.
Our products do not contain gluten in the form of wheat, rye, oats, and barley. Although our products are labeled in compliance with government regulations, it is advised to always read the ingredient details on the label as formulas change from time to time.
We do not presently identify or label any of the products we produce with the claim “gluten free” as the standard for this term has yet to be finalized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through the rule making process.
Upon publication of the proposed rule it is our intention to re-evaluate our ability to apply the claim “gluten free” to our products. Until such time we will continue to comply with existing regulations governing the identification of products and ingredients.
It is an adverse reaction to a food or food component that involves the body's immune system.
Do you process and pack products that contain allergens?
We do not manufacture and pack Falls Brand products made with allergens (Peanuts, Tree nuts, Wheat, Milk or Milk Products, Egg, and Soy) in our facility. Although the exact make up of the listing “natural flavorings” is proprietary, it does not contain any known allergens. Be sure to check product labels for details on ingredients, formulas do change from time to time.
We take food allergies very seriously at Independent Meat Company and have strict procedures in place to prevent crossover of allergens into other products that do not contain the allergen. In instances where we have a concern about possible crossover by an allergen we manufacture these products on a separate day, followed by complete sanitation clean-up procedures and subsequent inspection.
Do any of your retail products contain MSG (monosodium glutamate)?
Our retail products do not contain MSG. Please check product labels for ingredient details as formulas do change from time to time.
Salmon Creek Farms Natural Pork is USDA Process Verified for the following points:
- All market hogs can be source verified to Salmon Creek Farms Marketing Association partner farms
- Use of Paylean™ (Ractopamine) is prohibited in the production of Salmon Creek Farms Natural Pork
- No rendered animal proteins including meat meal, bone meal, or blood meal are used in the production of Salmon Creek Farms Natural Pork
- All hogs used in Salmon Creek Farms Natural Pork are sourced from PQA Plus certified producers
- Salmon Creek Farms Marketing Association performs meat quality evaluations
The USDA Process Verified Program provides suppliers of agricultural products or services the opportunity to assure customers of their ability to provide consistent quality products or services. It is limited to programs or portions of programs where specified process verified points are supported by a documented quality management system. The specified process verified points are identified by the supplier. The USDA Process Verified Program uses the International Organization for Standardization's ISO 9000 series standards for documented quality management systems as a format for evaluating program documentation to ensure consistent auditing practices and promote international recognition of audit results. Salmon Creek Farms Natural Pork will continue to maintain extensive documentation and undergo annual comprehensive audits by USDA AMS as part of the USDA Process Verification program.
SQF means Safe Quality Food. The SQF Program is a fully integrated food safety and quality management protocol designed specifically for the food sector. It has been the culmination of 10 years development and is designed specifically for the food industry with application at all links in the food supply chain.
SQF Certification provides an independent and external validation that a product, process or service complies with international, regulatory and other specified standard(s) and enables a food supplier to give assurances that food has been produced, prepared and handled according to the highest possible standards.
The SQF Codes, based on universally accepted CODEX Alimentarius HACCP Guidelines, offers the food sector a way to manage food safety and quality simultaneously.
The SQF 1000 Code is designed specifically for primary producers. In addition to GAP's a producer develops and maintains Food Safety and Food Quality Plans to control those aspects of their operations that are critical to maintaining food safety and quality.
The SQF 2000 Code has wide appeal across the food manufacturing and distribution sectors. In addition to GMP's a supplier develops and maintains Food Safety and Food Quality Plans to control those aspects of their operations that are critical to maintaining food safety and quality.
A number of modules provided as voluntary options to suppliers whose markets require additional assurances for matters in addition to food safety and quality have also been developed to support the SQF program. They include Worker Welfare, Environment, Animal Care and Food Security.
SQF is designed to support industry or company branded products. Suppliers design and implement customized management systems to demonstrate equivalence with GAP/GMP and other best practice programs. Achieving SQF certification is an external verification of a supplier's commitment to producing safe, quality food.
The SQF Program is owned by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI). At the request of its retail members FMI acquired SQF so they could utilize one program that met their requirements and at the same time provided efficiencies for suppliers. SQF (the SQF 1000 Code and 2000 Code) is recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative as conforming to the highest international standards and utilizes protocols administered by International Accreditation Forum member Accreditation Bodies.
The SQF program has been implemented by over 5000 companies operating in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, United States, Europe and South America. Registered SQF Experts and SQF Auditors are implementing and auditing SQF systems around the world.
The SQF Program is rigorous, flexible and complements government programs and industry initiatives. It also avoids the duplication and confusion associated with the current array of industry sector programs. SQF certification provides benefit and value. It is:
- a tool to build confidence and trust between retailers and suppliers
- the enabling tool for producers and manufacturers to demonstrate "due diligence" and compliance with regulatory and product traceability requirements
- an internationally recognized standard, suitable for all food suppliers operating in domestic and global markets
- a means to reduce the number and frequency of inconsistent and costly audits
- a proven way for suppliers to gain an advantage over their non-certified competitors and to increase profits by aligning their products to retailer/consumer requirements
- a management system that promotes cost efficiencies through waste reduction and "one system, one audit"; and
- a structure for implementing and demonstrating sustainable production and manufacturing best practices.
Sodium erythorbate is the sodium salt of erythorbic acid, a highly refined food grade chemical, closely related to Vitamin C, and used as a color fixative in cured meats. (Note: Erythorbate is NOT earthworms. Perhaps the spelling or pronunciation has contributed to this misconception, because the Hotline receives many calls related to this concern.)
Source: USDA FSIS Additives in Meat & Poultry Products
You cannot get H1N1 from eating or handling pork 1. Strict government safeguards protect our food supply 2. Scientific studies have proven H1N1 is a respiratory illness, not a food borne illness 3. USDA studies have proven H1N1 virus is not found in the blood or meat of pigs that have had the flu and recovered 4. Our producers are located in isolated regions of the intermountain west and have strict biosecurity protocols in place on their farms to insure animal health For more information on H1N1, please visit www.factsaboutpork.org