Customers and Consumers
Food safety is the heart of our business. We continuously review every aspect of our daily operations to make sure that we are doing everything possible to provide safe, high-quality, nutritious products for our customers and consumers.
To ensure quality product reaches consumers’ tables, JBS USA makes an extensive effort regarding food quality and safety, team member training and value chain management, including the responsible purchase of raw materials.
In the U.S., the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspects every JBS USA production facility daily to guarantee that our food products meet federal food safety standards. In Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regularly inspects and actively monitors our facility to ensure compliance with federal food safety standards. In Australia, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) representatives are permanently located at our export facilities and perform inspections of our facilities daily to guarantee that we are meeting all federal food safety and overseas markets requirements. In Europe, our production facilities are inspected and third-party audited according to the European Union Food Hygiene regulations and any additional customer quality requirements to verify compliance. In Mexico, we follow the best practice guidelines for chicken production as defined by the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) and the National Service for Agro-Alimentary Public Health, Safety and Quality (SENASICA). Most Pilgrim’s facilities in Mexico have a Federally Inspected Type (TIF) certification. In addition, many of our facilities are also subject to additional customer quality requirements to ensure that our products meet their expectations. Although local government provides oversight, all JBS USA team members recognize that producing safe, healthy, wholesome products is our responsibility.
Each JBS USA production facility operates under a fully implemented Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan. Our food safety processes consist of Standard Operating Procedures, Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures, HACCP procedures and validated technology interventions, which are designed to eliminate or reduce foodborne pathogens. These processes are monitored by team members trained in food safety and quality assurance, as well as government officials in each production facility. Inspection and process verification by government officials occur before the mark of inspection can be placed on products that will enter into commerce.
To ensure the integrity and safety of our products and ingredients, every facility uses nationally accredited laboratories that provide microbiological and ingredient testing.
While we proudly deliver on our food safety commitment every day, we do face food safety challenges. Regulatory requirements can often change, necessitating modifications in our corresponding policies, training materials and audit practices. These changes require that we constantly work to improve and enhance our systems, while continuously implementing the latest regulatory requirements and technological advancements to promote food safety compliance and performance.
Our HACCP systems are designed to minimize risk for consumers. We take into account intended product use and follow strict protocols to ensure the safety of our food products.
Our production facilities in the U.S. abide by the USDA FSIS regulations in Title 9 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as well as all pertinent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations and the latest Food Code (2013). Our Canadian beef production facility operates under CFIA regulatory Food Safety Enhancement Program (FSEP) and HACCP requirements. In Europe, our production facilities abide by EU regulation 852/2004 (Article 5). In Australia, our facilities abide by the Australian Government Export Control (Meat and Meat Products) orders 2005 and/or the Australian Standard for the hygienic production and transportation of meat and meat products for human consumption AS 4696:2007. In Mexico, our production facilities abide by Official Mexican Standard NOM-251-SSA1-2009, Hygienic Practices for the Process of Food, Beverages or Food Supplements; Code of Hygienic Practice for Meat1 CAC / RCP 58-2005; Recommended International Code of Practice General Principles of Food Hygiene CAC / RCP 1-1969, Rev. 4-20031.
HACCP programs identify where hazards might occur in the food production process and put into place stringent actions to prevent hazards from occurring. By strictly monitoring and controlling each step of the process, including microbiological, chemical and physical contamination prevention processes, we can better assure consumers that our products are safe. While many public opinion studies report that consumers are primarily concerned about the perceived presence of chemical residues in food, for example from pesticides and antibiotics, in reality, these hazards are nearly nonexistent. The more significant hazards facing the food industry today include microbiological contaminants, such as E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella. With effective implementation of HACCP systems, the risk for hazards to occur is greatly diminished and public health protection is strengthened.
Over the years, JBS USA has invested millions of dollars in new processing equipment, team member training and quality assurance programs to improve the microbiological profile of our products.
The JBS USA management structure for Food Safety and Quality Assurance (FSQA) is designed to ensure industry-leading performance and corporate oversight at the highest level. The team is led by the Global Head of Food Safety and Quality Assurance who oversees the company’s global food safety efforts, making sure that our operations around the world implement the highest food safety, quality control and risk-management systems, while maintaining and expanding access to global export markets.
The Heads of FSQA (also referred to in some business units as the Heads of Technical Services and Quality Assurance) oversee all food safety and quality assurance programs for each business unit, report directly to the President of their respective business units and work collaboratively with the Global Head of Food Safety and Quality Assurance. Each JBS USA facility has a FSQA Manager and FSQA team who, in our Fed and Regional Beef business units, report to the Head of FSQA; in the Pilgrim’s, Australia and Primo business units, report to the FSQA Director for their line of the business; and in all other business units, report to the production facility manager.
One of the many strengths of our global approach to food safety and quality assurance is our ability to share and leverage best management practices across the company. This effort is led by the Global Head of Food Safety and Quality Assurance, who works with each business unit to disseminate best practices around regulatory compliance, pathogen control, modernization and other innovations to improve our food safety and quality performance. JBS hosts an annual Global Food Safety and Quality Conference with FSQA professionals from around the global company to identify common challenges, industry trends and opportunities to support the company’s effort to serve as the worldwide leader in high-quality, innovative protein and value-added food products.
“During my first year at JBS we faced many challenges, however we were able to work through them and have made progress in our food safety and quality assurance goals across all proteins in the food safety platform.”
Global Head of Food Safety and Quality Assurance
In the U.S. and Canada, the Food Safety and Quality Advisory Committee is responsible for providing oversight and guidance to our Food Safety Program. The committee is comprised of senior JBS USA and Pilgrim’s team members, as well as academicians who specialize in the areas of animal science, meat science, epidemiology and food microbiology. The committee includes the Heads of FSQA in each JBS USA and Pilgrim’s business unit and nine industry experts, including Drs. Gary Smith and Keith Belk from Colorado State University, Drs. H. Russell Cross, Kerri Gehring and Jeff Savell from Texas A&M University, Dr. Guy Loneragan from Texas Tech University, Dr. Mike Apley from Kansas State University, Dr. Chuck Hofacre from University of Georgia and Dr. Lynn McMullen from the University of Alberta, Canada.
Food safety and quality system management performance are also part of all senior management goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), all the way up to and including our CEO. This reporting structure demonstrates the high priority we place on food safety and quality assurance at JBS USA and allows us to nimbly implement action-oriented decisions on a daily basis, if necessary.
In addition to our robust, resilient food safety management structure, JBS USA focuses on training and auditing procedures to produce safe, high-quality food. Our team members undergo extensive training in both food safety and value chain management, including raw material purchasing guidelines, to ensure that quality products reach the tables of our customers and consumers. All new team members receive training on quality assurance (QA) and food safety management systems when they are hired and participate in additional job-specific training. All team members who work in our production facilities receive ongoing training on food safety policies and practices. In addition, QA team members are provided with specific HACCP, as well as additional food safety and quality assurance training every year.
Each year, we conduct numerous food safety and quality system audits using accredited, independent auditing firms. One hundred percent of our production facilities in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australian production facilities and 85.7 percent of our Mexico operations have been audited and certified by audit schemes recognized by the GFSI, one of the most stringent food safety-related audits available to the food industry. These audits, which are required by many of our retail customers, necessitate that a plant meet 326 requirements before a final certification grade can be given. Internal audits are conducted regularly by corporate QA team members and rewritten annually to foster continuous improvement. The QA team members at our production facilities conduct daily facility inspections.
We are extremely proud of each of our facilities for their dedication and commitment to food safety and quality standards. We believe that our third-party oversight and audit results further validate that our more than 1,500 highly skilled QA team members are doing an effective job promoting, protecting and enhancing the safety and quality standards at JBS USA.
In North America, we continue to challenge all of our packaging and ingredient suppliers to use a GFSI audit to demonstrate their commensurate level of commitment to food safety. All of our suppliers who provide products or services that have direct contact with food must pass the ISNetworld and GFSI audits and provide a letter of guarantee.
Even though we have comprehensive systems in place to provide our consumers with safe high-quality food, instances can and have occurred where a product recall is necessary to protect public health. When a recall is warranted, JBS USA voluntarily initiates the recall, collaborating with the appropriate federal regulatory partners to make sure that all affected product is promptly tracked and removed from distribution channels where product is destined for delivery to consumers. We have detailed protocols that address situations during and after routine business hours so that effective plans can be implemented and executed as needed. To further ensure effective execution of recall protocols, the JBS USA FSQA teams conduct numerous practice drills throughout the year that replicate various recall scenarios, identify potential procedural gaps and prepare our recall teams to handle the rare circumstance when a recall is warranted. When we decide to voluntarily recall one of our products out of caution to protect consumer health, the JBS USA Recall Committee is immediately convened to implement the recall protocol. Once initiated, the committee remains in constant communication to ensure that the recall is effective and all product is removed from commerce, so that consumer and regulatory confidence is maintained. To inform our customers and consumers of a recall, we issue a notice that follows government guidelines for communication.
The protocol is dependent on where the product is located or distributed. For example, if the product is in consumers’ homes, we use appropriate media outlets to communicate the urgency of the situation and reach out to individual consumers using key account shopper card databases. In the U.S., recall information is also posted on the USDA FSIS or FDA websites. In Australia, recall information is communicated on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) website.
Recalls are rare, and we work diligently to understand how they were caused and how to prevent future incidents. We perform comprehensive root-cause analysis and share our learnings across JBS USA. GFSI verifies the effectiveness of our corrective actions as an independent third-party auditor.
Ensuring the safety of our products is considered precompetitive in our industry, and we are proud to serve in a leadership role on many industry initiatives that are working toward reducing pathogens in meat and poultry products. Through these initiatives, we share best practices across the industry to guarantee the continued safety of our products.
“The beef industry in the U.S. has shared best practices for reducing E. coli O157:H7 since the formation of the Beef Industry Safety Council (BIFSCo) in 2003. I am proud to share what we learn at JBS USA with our competitors who have become our trusted colleagues in Food Safety and Quality Assurance.”
Head of Technical Services
JBS USA Regional Beef and 2018 Chair of the BIFSCo