Meat processing giant JBS is to roll out around-the-clock video surveillance across its eight US beef plants in a bid to boost food safety, quality and animal handling practices.
The company said the remote video auditing (RVA) technology would be used to improve food safety performance by line workers and to minimise the risk of cross-contamination on the slaughter floor.
In recent years, a series of recalls involving meat tainted with E.coli and Salmonella have raised questions over food safety practices with the US processing sector.
JBS said it had seen an almost immediate improvement in its performance in the aftermath of fitting the system – which it had developed with Arrowsight.
“Within weeks of installing the RVA system, we were able to improve the accuracy of our auditing,” said Dr John Ruby, JBS USA Beef Division technical head. “By measuring the performance of our workers and providing them with immediate feedback while they work, JBS will be able to continually measure and improve our food safety systems.”
The firm said all its US beef plants would be using the video equipment by the end of 2011.
Arrowsight said the system could revolutionise food safety standards in beef plants across the world.
“The use of Remote Video Auditing services to address the root cause of cross-contamination has the potential to transform the global beef industry and establish new food safety standards in beef harvest facilities,” said company CEO Adam Aronson.
Earlier this year, Cargill began piloting a similar video monitoring system at its US beef plants in order to reduce the risk of E.coli and salmonella contamination. It focussed on the stages where workers clean and sanitise knives and other equipment. It will also look at dressing procedures to check proper protocol is followed.
“We’re working to eliminate the opportunity for cross contamination,” said Dr Angie Siemens, Cargill VP for technical services, food quality and safety. “We want to have the steps at the beginning of our process right to enhance the efficacy of our intervention technologies later in the process.”
She said the ultimate aim is to design a “ground-breaking” programme too further reduce E.coli and salmonella contamination.