Since starting my journey as a McDonald’s Progressive Young Farmer I have had a unique opportunity to experience the different stages of the McDonald’s pork supply chain.
In my first blog I told you all about my time on a Pig Farm in Oxfordshire.
Now at the end of my three months on the farm I am taking the next step in my supply chain journey at Westerleigh Abattoir, following the process right from the lairage to butchery.
I must admit that before embarking on the next stage of my placement, was slightly apprehensive about how I would feel, however I ended up being surprised by how much I enjoyed my experience.
First I spent time in the lairage. Here the pigs are carefully looked after by highly trained professionals.
I was surprised to see the care that is taken to ensure it’s a really stress free environment where the animals are treated with a high level of respect by the abattoir staff.
Here, I worked alongside the official veterinary surgeon who inspects all the pigs in the lairage prior to slaughter to ensure that they are top quality, healthy animals.
Next the meat is graded according to the schemes and systems they are reared to.
All pork used in McDonald’s menu items across the UK is RSPCA assured which means that it comes from RSPCA approved British farms.
The standard sets strict rules on everything from type of feed they use to living conditions.
Once the meat is graded it heads to the butchery where someone is responsible for segmenting the meat into the three primals (shoulder, middle and legs).
I got the opportunity to have a go at the tricky job of de-boning a leg - with the expert help and oversight of one the highly skilled butchers.
My time spent at the abattoir brought to my attention what a highly skilled job butchery is and how a steady hand and a high level of precision is key.
The second month of my placement in pork processing was spent in Bodmin, in the cooked bacon area of the Tulip factory. Here I oversaw several of the quality checks carried out on the bacon used in McDonald’s restaurants.
I project managed two of these checks, firstly quality controlling the amount of rashers in packs ready for McDonald’s restaurants and secondly selecting and sampling packs to be tested from the batches ready for dispatch.
This involved checking the bacon against a strict criteria and then recording and writing up the results in a report which I presented to the Tulip team.
All of these experiences have allowed me to piece together more links within the pork supply chain and understand how traceable all the meat used by McDonald’s is.
Having already gained hands on experience rearing piglets on breeding units and now having seen how and where the end product is produced, I am looking forward to the next four months on a finishing farm so I can understand what happens in the middle stage of the process.