Four years ago when Dakota Provisions built its $120 million meat-processing plant on a 114-acre site near Huron, South Dakota, its No. 1 objective was to lead the industry in food safety, according to the company’s website.
The plant, which harvests, debones and cooks turkeys, has the capacity for 8 million live turkeys per year and produces a complete line of fully cooked turkey, pork, beef, and chicken products.
All of the company’s products are geared toward food service, co-manufacturing, and niche markets.
Jordan Woodbury, director of Food Safety and Quality Assurance for Dakota Provisions, told Food Safety News that the company uses video monitoring as one of its food safety tools on the ready-to-eat side of the plant.
Those ready-to-eat products include sliced meats and fully cooked products that can be eaten without cooking, which, Woodbury said, makes food safety a primary goal.
Two cameras, set up in each slicing room, are aimed in each direction of the rooms. Cameras are also set up in the handwashing vestibules, as well as in the main washroom.
Like Cargill, the company contracts with Arrowsight Inc. of Mount Kisco, N.Y., for the remote video auditing program.
“We built a state-of the-art facility, Woodbury said. “We cut no corners in food safety.”
When differentiating its products from other company’s products, the company includes its video monitoring system on the list.
“We’re producing under the most stringent standards,” Woodbury said. “Video monitoring is another method we use to make sure our products are as safe as possible.”
Out in the marketplace, reception of this technology has been good.
“Our customers feel good that we’ve taken this step,” he said. “If we see a problem, we can address it immediately. And if Arrowsight sees a problem, it can immediately call us or send us an e-mail.”
The company has had no recalls, which Woodbury said is the way it should be.
“In my position, I need to do everything possible so we don’t get involved in a recall,” he said. “We don’t take our eye off any step of the process. We stay focused on food safety. We know we need to be diligent.”
With its focus on the family farm, its commitment to quality, and its diligent food safety practices, Dakota Provisions has been able to grow and add more employees.
When it first opened 4 years ago, the plant hired 300 employees. And despite the economic slow down, it has grown its employee numbers to 600, although there was a bit of a slowdown in hiring a year ago.
The goal is to have more than 1,000 employees in the coming year or two.
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