Cargill invests millions in its Fresno beef plant

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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FRESNO, Calif. – In order to expand its extensive food-safety efforts and to renovate and expand some packaging lines, Cargill invested $8 million at its Fresno beef production facility.

The larger of the two expenditures, $4.2 million, is for installing a hide-on-carcass wash for cattle in which the hides of animals are scrubbed with spinning bristles and a mild bromine solution that kills bacteria at the beginning of the harvesting process. According to Cargill, this process helps better assure removal of dirt and debris while washing the animal's exterior, thereby minimizing the potential for contamination from bacteria that potentially pose a health risk to humans.

The hide-on-carcass wash, which is used in concert with a number of food-safety measures already in place aimed at reducing bacteria such as E-coli O157: H7, provides the Fresno facility with another tool to reduce, and potentially eliminate, these randomly and naturally occurring bacteria.

"People expect safe food, and Cargill's Fresno beef facility prides itself on producing safe, fresh, quality meat products," said John Niemann, vice president and general manager. "It's the meat that families of our 830-plus employees eat, and it's the meat millions of additional consumers eat, so we work hard to deliver the safest products possible to all of our retail and foodservice customers.

“Food safety is a top priority at Cargill that we take seriously every minute the facility is operating,” he added. “Our shared goal, together with others in the industry, as well as federal regulatory agencies, is to continuously develop and implement new and better measures that further improve food safety."

Water used for the hide-on-carcass wash process is treated and reclaimed using cutting edge waste water treatment technology. "We are sensitive to regional water needs in California and the Central Valley, and feel it is important to ensure any water we use at our beef processing facility is properly treated, reused for other purposes and meets water quality and environmental standards when it is discharged," Niemann said.

A second capital expenditure for approximately $3.8 million involves the complete renovation and expansion of some ground-beef packaging lines at the Fresno facility. Finished products include packages of fresh ground beef that are transported by refrigerated trucks from the Cargill facility to distribution centers, then directly to grocery store meat cases. New equipment has been installed in the production area, which enables the packaging lines to operate more effectively and efficiently to meet customer needs.

The hide-on-carcass wash is a collaborative effort between WMR (Water Management Resources) and Cargill. Installation and testing of the hide-on-carcass wash was completed in late September and packaging line renovation work was recently completed.

Established in 1939, the business located at the Cargill site in Fresno eventually became Beef Packers Inc. Cargill purchased the Fresno beef facility in 2006. The 60-acre facility currently harvests cattle during one shift Monday through Friday, with certain types of meat production and packaging taking place on multiple shifts during the week.
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