For the next few weeks, I am travelling further along the McDonald’s beef supply chain, working with beef processor ABP. They are a key supplier of forequarter and flank to OSI Food Solutions who make over three million beef patties a day for McDonald’s restaurants from their site at Scunthorpe.
Working on an ABP site in Langport, I’m looking forward to gaining a thorough understanding of how an abattoir and boning hall works.
I have already spent time in the lairage, where I have witnessed first-hand the importance of animal welfare where each animal is assessed to ensure they are fit, healthy and unstressed.
It’s important all paperwork is checked, which includes the animal’s passport and farm detail as all cattle entering the McDonald’s supply chain must be sourced from farms accredited to a nationally recognised farm assurance scheme such as Red Tractor.
As soon as the animal is unloaded, its ear tag number from the passport is scanned onto the system and this number remains with the carcase.
Once the carcase enters the boning hall its individual number is allocated to a distinct batch, which on delivery to OSI Food Solutions, means that each batch of forequarter and flank can be traced right back to farm.
Spending time with the ABP technical team has given me an insight into the quality controls carried throughout the plant.
Cleanliness is essential and training, procedures and equipment are all in place to avoid contamination. The rate of fall in the carcass pH and temperature are carefully measured for meat quality.
I have found the science behind chilling and preparation of carcases particularly interesting with a number of different techniques to improve meat colour, taste, texture and tenderness.
I have seen how the procurement team work hard to build relationships, improving the feedback that farmers receive and how prices are calculated. ABP Langport have just started to use a new 15-point EUROP grid, allowing them to grade cattle more accurately.
It’s been great to see first-hand the farmer’s support for the new grid. Several have come into the plant to see how the system works, which has also helped them to ‘get their eye in’ and improve the accuracy of how they assess live cattle to get the best from the new system.
On the run up to Christmas, I’m looking forward to working with the ABP Langport vets and Food Standards Agency staff to gain an understanding of how meat quality is monitored and how animal welfare is considered.
I’ll be working hands on in the abattoir and boning hall, receiving some basic knife training and learning all the different cuts and their destinations. It’s great to see that the farmer’s hard work is carried through and built on in the abattoir ensuring a quality product for all customers.