Vital Pillars of the Jozi Real Food Revolution – Transparency and Traceability..

Trace The Farm

Trace The Farm

So I wrote that very angry piece about my response to the meat ‘scare’ last week. Since then, we’ve had some more fun news like the fact that your biltong might be kangaroo. It is ludicrous there.
What I didn’t’ do in that article was state the obvious. I wasn’t in a very pragmatic sort of sense when I wrote it. In fact if you want to read a right royal vent at public Joe Soap for expecting anything other than questionable animal protein in processed meats – click here…
If emotional tirades aren’t much your thing. Then here is the toned down, calmed down version.
How it is that we make sure that there isn’t donkey in our meat:
Two vital key words that underpin 2 fundamental building bricks in the foundation of the Jozi Real Food Revolution:

  1. Traceability
  2. Transparency

1. Traceability.
Traceability means that can track back any product to a farm. Considering what we sell – only real food – and that we aren’t selling anything out of a factory – this isn’t the most difficult part of our business. It’s the easiest.
The great part of working for a business like this, is that we trade in honesty, we only deal with real farmers, we never have to worry and when scandals like last week’s break out, we remain assured that despite the fact that we’re taking the road less travelled, we don’t have to ever worry about the consequences that you face when you sell anonymous factory food.
We don’t do business with farmers that we don’t know.
If the distance is too great between producer and us, we don’t look at it, unless there is a certification or representation from somebody that says the produce is what it says it is. This is either organic certification or a trusted intermediary but for the purpose especially of fresh produce and most especially animal produce, we do not sell anonymous fare.
We do not buy from corporations or businesses. We buy real food from real farmers and we can trace every product back to the original farm.
Every single animal that gets sent under the Kalahari 100% Grass Fed Beef brand comes from Keith Harvey’s farm and there are batch numbers that get sent from him that the carcass gets checked against when it reaches the *HACCP approved (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point – Food Safety Management System) deboning plant who cuts it up for us. If anything isn’t up to scratch, the code is checked and we pick up the phone and call Keith Harvey.
It has just happened like that. We have recently been receiving steaks that are too tough. Keith is investigating why this might be. The carcass was checked, confirmed that it came from Keith’s farm, now we’re looking into why some of the more recent cuts have been tough.
Keith is the farmer, it is his cow. Batch codes and an audit trail confirm the link. Go figure. That’s what we mean by traceability.
When the carcass arrives at the deboning plant, the plant has already received a slaughter sheet with the identification code of that particular carcass. That gets signed off to confirm that they do indeed match and this cow is indeed from Keith’s farm.
It’s the same with Mandy’s chicken, we only source it through her and because there is no processing, it’s as simple as calling her the moment there is a problem. When she takes her chickens for slaughter, they are issued with batch number as they enter and then it’s printed on the packs so that she can check it is indeed her chicken that has been cut up. Again, it’s a small, family-run abattoir; we’re not talking about an anonymous massive conveyor belt abattoir here.
We won’t bring you pork, and we won’t bring you lamb until we have found a farmer who is willing to work with us in that way and provide us with an open and transparent relationship.
I can walk on and off Mandy’s farm as I please. We will not do business with farmers who aren’t prepared to walk like that and open up their farms in this way.
We have walked Keith’s farm, we have a great relationship with him, he’s in contact with us regularly – it’s an open and transparent relationship.
We don’t sell anything where meat comes from variable sources. The Kalahari patties, dry wors, burgers are all made from the meat from the one carcass – never from 2 and never between farms.
We don’t process food. More and more, I’m slowly de-cataloging and taking off ‘products’ that we used to sell but that I’ve come to see as peripheral and not true food. I’m not going to sell what somebody calls a super food from some far off land. I don’t see that as part of where I want to be any more in the ‘real food’ journey, I want to just sell real food from local farms. The shorter the distance between us, you and the farm, the less anybody has to fear of being sold anything that isn’t what it says it is.
2. Transparency
The other value that protects us is transparency. In fact the Jozi Real Food Revolution will never be successful without this. That means, that we will only work with farmers who are totally transparent and open about their farms and happy to have it totally open for visits. Again, we are only working too with real farmers. Farmers who want anonymity won’t work with us because I’m only prepared to work with a farm when I have a personal relationship with the farmer and the farm and can walk on and off it at whim.
Just in the past month alone, I have asked Mandy if I could sent a customer who is vegan but needs to start eating eggs but desperately concerned about the idea whether she can visit the farm, I felt so terrible for this lady, Mandy’s response ‘sure no problem, give her my number’.
Last week I spoke to somebody who was concerned about how the chickens are slaughtered, one call to Mandy asking her if we could walk the slaughtering process together and take the customer with so that she can see, her response ‘sure, no problem’.
If I had to call Keith and say ‘can we arrange a week-end tour for customers’, I know I’d get ‘sure no problem’.
And this shapes the beginning of a new venture that I want to build and launch WITH YOU.
It will be called the Jozi Real Food Revolution and it will be a place of community that gives you the opportunity to participate in your own food governance. So to be a part of Organic Emporium and the Jozi Real Food Revolution will mean that we can better facilitate open visits between you and the farms you are supporting.
Together, we will build a fantastic community around food. We will involve committed and passionate chefs that will help us cook food from real farms. We’ll get together, we’ll go to farms….it’s a massive project and it’s the culmination of a series of relationships and events on this gorgeous journey I’m on and I think we’ve found a retail partner who is prepared to dedicate space to this type of real food for you so that I can focus on building a more serious, more focused and more expansive place of activism for us.
A farm will only be a participating member if they offer traceability and transparency. So literally, that we can organize regular visits with the farms so that you’re connected.
I can’t keep organizing personal, one on one visits with farms when people want them, we’re getting too large and we need to co-ordinate it better – what if we set up an active and robust food community and I help facilitate that?
That’s where I’m headed and these are just 2 of the critical pillars of the food revolution – bringing transparency and traceability back to our eating.
Sourcing real food, from real farms.
I just don’t know how you’d slip in donkey or kangaroo like this – it would be almost impossible!
We only want to sell food that is what it is. If you don’t processs food, you don’t have this problem. Eat real vegetables and real meat, dont’ eat out of factories and for the most you’ll be ok.

*Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point – Food Safety Management System

This is a food safety program that was developed some 30 years ago for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to ensure the safety of food products that were to be used by the astronauts in the space program.
Traditionally, industry and regulators have depended on spot-checks of manufacturing conditions and random sampling of final products to ensure safe food. Such an approach, however, tends to be reactive, rather than preventive, and can be less efficient than a system that focuses on preventing hazards, by applying scientific controls from raw material to finished products.
HACCP is a food safety management system that enables food processing and catering industries to introduce and maintain a cost effective, ongoing and safety programme. HACCP involves the systematic assessment of all the main steps involved in a food manufacturing operation and the identification of those steps that are critical to the safety of the product.
HACCP is comprised of seven principles:

  • Analyze hazards
    Potential hazards associated with a food and the measures required to control those hazards are identified and include biological, chemical and physical contaminants.
  • Identify critical control points
    These are points in a food’s production at which potential hazards can be controlled or eliminated.
  • Establish preventive measures with critical limits for each control point
    These are minimum standards required for the safe preparation of food.
  • Establish procedures to monitor the critical control points
    Such procedures include determining how and by whom processing standards are to be monitored.
  • Establish corrective actions to be taken when monitoring has shown that a critical limit has not been met
    Either reprocessing or disposal of foods if minimum processing standards has not been met.
  • Establish procedures to verify that the system is working properly
    Testing and calibrating equipment to ensure its proper functioning is but one typical requirement.
  • Establish effective record keeping in order to document the HACCP system
    This would include records of hazards and their control methods, monitoring of safety requirements and corrective actions taken to either prevent problems or how non-conformances are to be prevented from recurring.

In general, food safety is important for three main reasons. They are:

  • Good food hygiene (which, remember does not mean ‘cleanliness’), can prevent food consumers from becoming infected with various food-borne diseases, many of which can be fatal. Good food hygiene protects the food consumer; mere ‘cleanliness’ never does
  • Correct food hygiene design and practice can protect both a business and individual food handlers from possible prosecution
  • Good standards of food safety (not just ‘cleanliness’) can enhance and protect the reputation of a business which can lead to increased profits and increased job security

HACCP is relevant to all sectors of the food industry, including primary producers, manufacturers, processors and food service operators who want to demonstrate their compliance with national or international food legislation requirements.
When you choose SABS Commercial as your certification body, you are also selecting our national and international reputation for independence, integrity and innovation.
As one of the world leading certification bodies, our clients range from small, medium and large. SABS Commercial will offer you real value to your business. Our commitment to you does not end with a certificate, as a registered client you will be able to discuss your needs with us at all times.

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