Written by: Guest | March 20, 2023
By: Marisa Crowhurst, AFIA communications intern
What is now the fourth largest chicken processing company in the United States, started as a small feed company in 1914 in Little Rock, Ark. Mountaire Farms, family owned and operated, attributes their many years of success to their commitment to customers with quality products and exceptional service. Key to this commitment is their Safe Feed/Safe Food (SF/SF) certified status.
Mountaire Farms has pursued SF/SF certification for all six of its facilities. When asked why, Catherine Bassett, the company’s director of communications, said it was because of the value the program offered.
“We saw SF/SF certification as a gold standard for milling manufacturing practices, and we strive to be the best in the industry in all aspects of our business. It’s a comprehensive quality program and having a third party come in with an unbiased view of our facilities to audit what we do helps ensure we’re doing the best we can every single day.”
The company began its SF/SF journey with intern Mary Gray Holdren, who is now Mountaire Farms’ feed mill quality assurance supervisor and a valued part of their team. Holdren began the process with pursuing certification for one facility and over the course of a year, had achieved certification for all six facilities. Since then, Mountaire has gone back and reviewed and rewritten its procedures to ensure compliance and that the mills can accomplish what they are being asked to do.
“It’s a continuous improvement program. When we first began, we were happy with a passing grade. But now, the whole process has improved, and we achieved 100% scores at every facility. It wasn’t just filling out additional paperwork, it was truly changes in our processes and in our mindsets that enabled us to get to that perfect score. This program has improved our culture because now we have such higher expectations,” said Bassett.
Their customers appreciate that Mountaire Farms has achieved this status of being SF/SF certified, and it shows their continued commitment to food safety throughout the process.
“Our customers are reassured that the health and quality of our birds is optimal, which is what they’ve come to expect from our brand. Mountaire is known for high quality, and this is just another example of how we are going above and beyond industry standards to meet quality expectations,” Bassett said.
Mountaire has found value in the program because it provides a framework that compliments Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) guidelines set forth by the FDA, Bassett explained. “So exceeding expectations in one really helps compliance in another,” she added.
When asked what you would say to a company thinking about becoming SF/SF certified, Mountaire Farms said:
“Be prepared to become truly organized and be able to reference any standard operating procedure for any task that could be conducted on any given day. And be prepared for continuous training and certification of employees at all management levels in the mill. It’s well worth it in the end.”
Launched in 2004, the American Feed Industry Association set out to develop a program that would establish and promote generally accepted food safety guidelines that ensure continuous improvement in the delivery of a safe and wholesome feed supply for the growth and care of animals. That goal blossomed into the mission of the Safe Feed/Safe Food certification program. Learn more about SF/SF on the program’s website.