Cargill Invests $8 Million In Fresno Beef Facility

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Cargill invested $8 million at its Fresno beef production facility for recently completed projects to expand its already extensive food safety efforts, and to renovate and expand some packaging lines.

The larger of the two expenditures, $4.2 million, involves the installation of a hide-on-carcass wash that closely resembles a carwash 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. 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.

Used in concert with numerous food safety measures already in place that are aimed at reducing bacteria such as E-coli O157: H7, the hide-on-carcass wash provides Cargill’s 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. 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,” explained Niemann. “Founded as an agriculturally based firm 145 years ago in Iowa, our respect for natural resources and the need for conservation is fundamental to Cargill’s values and part of the organization’s cultural DNA.”

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.

“Investing in our facilities is good business,” states Niemann. “We are responsive to customer needs and realize that we are in business to help them succeed. When our customers are successful and prosper, that translates into a stronger, mutually beneficial, business relationship and profitable growth for both organizations.”

The hide-on-carcass wash is a collaborative effort between WMR (Water Management Resources) and Cargill. Using resources from both companies allowed Cargill to install a highly innovative, unique piece of equipment that could become the benchmark for the industry after all final adjustments were made. 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. The facility’s annual payroll was approximately $30 million in 2009, and more than $90 million was spent locally on goods and services (operating expenses) to support its operations last year.

Source: Cargill



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