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Poultry Plant Quality Issues arise almost hourly in the processing environment. Early quality was not high. As USDA inspection and industry competitiveness moved to the front, the old quality control system was replaced with a streamlined Quality Assurance System that was proactive in producing quality into the product every step of the way.

Responsibly minded poultry suppliers like a Perdue Farms no longer depend on just finished product quality checks, but have implemented high-tech quality improvement processes that make everyone in the processing chain responsible for producing quality into the poultry products as they are produced.

The pictures below are quality issues that were frequent in the early history of poultry processing. Most have been eliminated in the most reputable companies with Quality Improvement Program implementation and greatly improved hourly associate quality training.

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USDA Inspection greatly improved poultry quality. They primarily check for disease, contamination, feathers, and other quality defects.

Mixed product ----- the nightmare of all customers. Often this was caused by poorly engineered production systems or untrained employees. This was also a USDA violation for mislabeling.

Various programs were implemented by the Plant manager to positively impact finished product quality.

Poor stacking of finished product.  An all too frequent occurrence in a poultry plant.  Damaged boxes and lids are the norm in many plants.  

Quality and service are the back-bone of the poultry industry.

The Chicken Plant Manager promoted to Complex Manager at Perdue Dothan presents an award to Quality Assurance Unit Manager Kim Nations for the achievement of reducing customer complaints in 1995 by 70% over the previous year.

A poultry processing plant can be maintained in a sanitary condition with proper management concern !

Looks worse than it really is ------ The bird on the drain cover can be washed off with 20 parts-per-million of chlorinated water and then placed back into production. Birds in a drain, that fall into puddles of water, dehydrate, are stepped on or ran over by lifts, etc; cannot be used. They must be condemned.

Deboning has changed the way poultry is sold. Over 60 percent of product is now a deboned product.

A six-inch cone is used in whole bird deboning instead of the standard 4-inch cone used in front half deboning. It stabilizes the bottom portion of the bird during the deboning process and results in higher quality finished product and meat removal from the whole bird frame.

Poultry processing can be a positive experience if the desire to excel is strong with the entry level employee of today.

Processing plant floors must be kept clean for food safety and employee safety. A clean it up as you go philosophy has become the mind-set in the poultry industry.

Some notable product quality issues are ~

One of the most frequently occurring quality issues in early poultry processing was the leaving of lung or lung fragments in whole bird or breast portions. This could result in rapid spoilage or dumping of the chiller. A whole lung was a major Assured Quality Level error on early USDA quality checks.

A Gold Kist Athens Quality Banquet in 1988 had the KFC corporate quality director as the quest speaker with all plant management in attendance.

The  Gold Kist  Athens Quality Employee of the Year in 1988 was Ms. Patsy Chandler of second shift cutup.

The Chicken Plant Managers Package to Success for Poultry Processing is; Number 1 ~ Associate/ Food Safety and High Quality products/workplace; Number 2 ~ Yield and workmanship training; Number 3 ~ A strong production program with appropriate controls, checks and processes.

Not a high quality workmanship job on a combo of deboned breast frames. Too much meat visible. You can also see a high degree of lungs left in the breast frames. This can pose a problem for the Mechanical Debone Department in that lungs or lung fragments tend to go off-condition ( spoil ) rather quickly.

USDA should not be forced to demand processing plant sanitary guidelines and Good Management Practices are met. It is a management responsibility.

A holding freezer in a processing plant is extremely hard to keep in an orderly manner. Often the freezer is used to place aging or unsold product, pre-cooled shipments and other purposes. It can be a major inventory problem.

Fast food companies KFC and Popeye's are still strong in the market place, but Chic-fila and other deboned sales stores are rapidly closing the gap as to choice of product.

Quality scaling and packaging must be exercised when dealing with deboned product due to the sheer value of the product. A 32,000 pound load of deboned breast can reach the $100,000 level.

You can't go wrong with Perdue poultry products. High Quality with outstanding human relations programs for their associates.

Beautiful, High quality Breast Tenders from Perdue Dothan.

Does the Chicken Plant Manager eat chicken after being around it during the processing stage for 33 years ? What do you think ?

Questions answered about poultry processing in The Chicken Plant


1.   Are chicken plants clean ?

2.  Do you eat chicken ?

3. Does a chicken plant have a continuous off-odor ?

4.  Does chicken plant management treat their employees well ?

5. Is a chicken plant dangerous ?

6.  Are Hispanics the primary workforce in a chicken plant at this time ?

7.  Is there a future for the young college graduate  in a chicken plant ?

8.  Is a chicken plant all manual labor ?

9.  Does a chicken plant have comparable wages to other industries ?

10.  Does management care about their employees ?

11.  Are most chicken plants unionized ?

12.  Does fecal material get on you on all plant station jobs. 

13.  Does fecal material get into the chiller during production?

14.  Does USDA do their job ?

15.  Is USDA  needed in a chicken plant ?

16.  Is there equal opportunity in a chicken plant ?

17.  Is anyone trying to improve working conditions in a chicken plant ?

18.  Are employees properly trained in a chicken plant ? 

19.  Does a chicken plant have a nurse on duty ?

20.  Who is in charge of USDA  in a chicken plant ?

21.  Are there seriously enforced safety rules in a chicken plant ?

22.  Is there hourly employee recognition in a chicken plant ?

23. Do  chicken plant supervisors  work with their employees on personal matters ?

24.  Is  a chicken plant well organized and have professional management ?

25.  What are some jobs in a chicken plant for hourly workers ?

26.  Is there a concern for quality in a chicken plant ?

27.  Is a chicken Plant inspected by USDA before startup each day ?

28.  Does OSHA ever visit a chicken plant ?

29.  Do  chicken plants pay a bonus to managers and hourly workers ?

30.  Are plants competitive among themselves in a company?

In the industry ?

31.  Does a plant ever deal in unfair labor practices ?

32.  Does a large poultry corporation treat all its plants equally ?

33.  Do union plant workers make more money than non-union plant workers ?

34.  Where is the biggest per centage of cost department in a large poultry division ?

35.  Are chicken plants more violent than other industry plants ?

36.  What kind of effort and energy goes into that piece of chicken you buy at KFC, Pop-eyes, Chic-filet and other fast food restaurants.

Read THE CHICKEN PLANT to learn the answers to these questions and many more you have been wanting to ask.

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