The first thing to be aware of when purchasing raw chicken products, is that the general rule of “Frozen is injected” and “Fresh is not injected” should be borne in mind.
Eagles Valley Poultry (or EVP as we call ourselves) has strict control procedures in place to ensure that the required limits for brine uptake are adhered to as per Regulation R471 – Control over the Sale of Poultry Meat, which falls under the Agricultural Products Standards Act (No. 119 of 1990). Added to this, the brine we inject into our frozen products has been specially developed for EVP, under the guidance of a food scientist, to ensure that there are no unnecessary additives, allergens or dangerous chemicals added. Our brine ingredients list contains Salt, Phosphate, Thickener & Dextrose.
When purchasing your chicken from a retail store, how do you know it is locally grown and packed? Each abattoir in South Africa must be registered with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (DAFF) and be inspected and approved before being issued with their own abattoir identity number (also referred to as an “A” number as the majority of them begin with an “A”). This number must appear on every product packed and sold at the abattoir and may not be used by anyone else. Our retail packs bear our abattoir number which is 3-33p, and for bulk products, it must appear on the outer carton. If you are unsure, contact your local DAFF office, and they can steer you in the right direction.
So now you know what to look for and purchase, but remember that chicken should not have excessive amounts of bloody water swilling in the bottom of the pack, as this can cause the chicken to spoil more quickly. Also, your chicken should have smooth, pale cream skin with no excessive scratches, bruises and definitely no broken bones, as well as no blood pooled in the wing tips or drumsticks, as this means that the chicken was not bled properly.
Now that you have selected your chicken, you can take it home and store it ready for cooking.
As a rule, it is a good idea to carry an insulated shopping bag for all of your perishables (meat, milk, cream, cheese or anything which you purchased from the fridge section of the store) – especially if you do not intend heading directly home. Leaving perishables to become warm (and for us food safety fanatics, this is anything over 5°C) will accelerate spoilage of the product. Although the abattoir process involves a carcass sanitation process, not all bacteria will necessarily be destroyed, which is normal, especially for an agricultural product. There are different types of bacteria, some which do not concern us in the food industry and some that do. We specifically like to ensure that there are no food spoilage bacterial around as these will make the chicken go bad, but we especially like to ensure that there are no pathogens on our product, as these are the nasty bugs which can make us sick. So, any bacteria which may possibly be still present on your perishable product will start to grow and multiply at anything between 5°C and 60°C. So, it is important to ensure that you get your chicken into the refrigerator as soon as possible after purchasing it, and keeping it as cold as possible during the journey.
What about Defrosting and Refreezing?
When you defrost chicken, it is best to do it when you are around to keep a check on the temperature it reaches. If, however, you have defrosted your chicken and it becomes “warm”, bacterial growth could well have occurred and could continue to occur, so that when you do eventually cook it, there may well be enough pathogens present to make you or one of your family members sick – young children, the sick or elderly and pregnant women are much more at risk than strong healthy adults, so be cautious about how you store and handle all meat products.
Store your chicken in a sealed container or packet and do not let it come into contact with other food in your fridge, as cross contamination could occur which then complicates and compromises the safety of all other food in your fridge.
Some final advice about storage of chicken – once it is cooked, ensure that you do not leave it lying around, or let it come into contact with dirty surfaces, utensils (especially if there is a chance that anyone could have had a quick lick!) or hands, and always keep it wrapped or contained to prevent contact with other food in your fridge. The cooking process kills most pathogens which may linger on your raw chicken, but once it is cooked and becomes contaminated thereafter, there is no further process to kill off the new bugs!
Now it is time to prepare your meal – you have bought a beautiful piece of Eagles Valley chicken, stored it correctly in the fridge, it is now time to enjoy it!
Should you wash your chicken? Well, internationally, the jury is still out on this question. The problem with washing chicken is that any bacteria present, can be spread more easily onto surfaces, hands or anything else the water comes into contact with. So, to be sure, if you want to wash your chicken, do so with as little splashing as possible. Preferably, place it directly into your pan, or a plate which can be immediately washed, and pat it dry with paper towel (discard immediately). Make sure that you immediately wash any contact surfaces, especially your hands, before you handle any other food or start touching utensils, containers, pots, chopping boards or any other surface, particularly if they are wooden.
Now you can become creative – add your favourite herbs or spices and cook up a storm!
Should you need any further advice or clarity on the purchase, storage or preparation of our chicken, please contact us and we will assist in any way possible!
Product compliance means that the chicken we pack at EVP fulfils the requirements of all of the legal standards which are laid down in The Meat Safety Act (No.153 of 2000) and R153 (2006) – Poultry Regulations. These legal requirements cover the manner in which our government expects us to grow, slaughter and pack our chicken, and includes the health status of the live birds, the humane slaughter of the birds, time, temperature and carcass inspection and sanitation requirements during processing, as well as the environment in which the process takes place (the structure, utensils and equipment).
So how do they monitor this? How do you know that we adhere to all of these rules and regulations? The governing body under which all meat abattoirs fall is the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) who have a voluntary monitoring system whereby they send trained inspectors to audit the abattoir against criteria drawn up directly from the legislation. These audit inspections are part of the DAFF’s HAS or Hygiene Assessment System. EVP undergo a minimum of four such audits every year, where we have consistently scored in the upper 90% range and where our findings are all minor – something that we are very proud of. We at EVP believe that this is the very least that we can do to assure our customers of our commitment to quality, but we don’t stop there! We use the HAS system internally to monitor our performance and train our quality controllers to carry out these audits themselves, which not only monitors the performance of our process, but also serves as an excellent training tool to ensure our staff know their business well.
EVP is also an export approved abattoir and Halaal accredited by MJC and endorsed by SANHA
You may think that food safety is quality, but it is possible to have a product which adheres to the requirements of the Meat Safety Act, but which has been contaminated by physical contaminants such as glass, metal or hard plastic, biological contaminants such as pathogenic bacteria, chemical contaminants possibly from uncontrolled storage and use of hazardous chemicals, or allergens. To assure our customers that we not only provide a quality product which complies to the legislation imposed by DAFF, we also have a Food Safety Management System, which requires compliance to all other legislation, SABS specifications, international and national guidelines which serve to ensure that our food is safe to eat. These include but are not limited to:
MEAT SAFETY ACT (Act No. 40 of 2000)
SABS 10049: 2012 – FOOD HYGIENE MANAGEMENT
SANS 00241 1&2: 2015 – DRINKING WATER
SANS 10330: 2007 – REQUIREMENTS FOR A HACCP SYSTEM
SANS 10156: 2007 – HANDLING OF CHILLED AND FROZEN PRODUCTS
GFSI VERSION 6.3
FOODSTUFFS, COSMETICS AND DISINFECTANTS ACT (Act No.54 of 1972), R215(Amendments R2376, R1387) Regulations Governing The Maximum Limits For Veterinary Medicine And Stock Remedy Residues That May Be Present In Foodstuffs, R146 of 2010 – Regulations relating to the Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs and R962 of 2012 – Regulations Governing General Hygiene Requirements for Food Premises and the Transport of Food
THE HEALTH ACT (Act No.61 of 2003)
Legal Metrology Act No.9 of 2014
FERTILIZERS, FARM FEEDS, AGRICULTURAL REMEDIES AND STOCK REMEDIES ACT (Act No.36 of 1947) and all regulations as amended
ANIMAL DISEASES ACT (Act No. 35 of 2000) and all regulations as amended
ANIMAL HEALTH ACT (Act No. 7 of 2002) and all regulations as amended
OCCUPATIONAL, HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT, 1993 (Act No. 85 of 1993) and all regulations as amended
The food safety management system, which is based on ISO 22 000, is audited annually by a third party, accredited auditing company to ensure compliance. EVP’s score for 2016 was 93.1%.
We take our systems seriously and strive to improve our scores at every audit.
Finally, we believe that a quality product should not be exorbitantly more expensive than its competitors, and although there are costs attached to ensuring our products are of the highest quality, our prices are always market related, assuring our customers the best possible quality, safe product at the lowest possible price - value for money being just as much an important factor in the quest for quality.
EAGLES VALLEY BELIEVES IN QUALITY ASSURANCE AND STRIVE EVERY DAY TO ENSURE OUR CUSTOMERS CAN PURCHASE OUR GOODS WITHOUT ANY SECOND THOUGHTS.