Under the motto ‘nature gives, we accept’, Strauss Brands are committed to raising cattle in a compassionate and natural manner – free to roam on open pastures, never administered antibiotics or hormones.
“We are doing things a bit more difficult, so the payback is not so high, but from the standpoint of ethics we feel a whole lot better about the situation,” says plant manager Wayne Bucholtz. “We are trying to lead in doing things in a humane way.”
The forward-looking perspective is mirrored in the approach to quality control and labelling. “We wanted to make sure that everything going out is fat tested, so if we promise our customers 80% lean they get 80% lean,” says Bucholtz.
A new MeatScan near infrared (NIR) analyser has been in use for over a year. “It’s going very well,” says Bucholtz. “On a regular basis we take the results we get from the FOSS and send in samples and compare results. Our results are pretty much on.”
Bucholtz continues: “A lot of people in the meat industry just eye it up, but I am not a fan of this. If you are going to label a product, it has to be accurate. If a customer says it is too fatty, you have the data to discuss things. The FOSS makes this quicker and more accurate.”
As many tests as you want
Bucholtz had worked with FOSS equipment at a previous job and wanted to repeat the experience at Strauss Brands. Before, they were sending samples to a laboratory which could get expensive and time consuming and limiting in terms of the number of tests. “With the FOSS, you get accuracy, speed and lower cost than sending samples into a lab, you can do just as many samples as you want,” he says.
He also explains how the tighter fat analysis avoids lean meat giveaway. “We call it lean cost averaging. If it is maximum 10% fat and you are hitting 8%, you are not doing anything wrong, but you are costing the company money.”
The instrument is used for testing lamb, veal and beef and is located in the quality control office where it is used by both production and quality control staff. The instrument was working from the first day. It was cross-checked with samples that had been sent in to the laboratory and was ready to go.
In conclusion, Bucholtz reports that the support from FOSS has been good and he recommends it to other producers. “Right now I would say this is the most accurate thing out there. Also for your USDA labelling you can show your USDA inspector that your product is being tested and it is right there in front of them.”
Strauss Brands Incorporated
Founded in 1937, The Strauss family has a long, rich history in the meat and livestock industry. The third generation of the Strauss family owns and operates the specialty lamb and veal business. Randy and Tim Strauss, brother and co-presidents, not only carry on the proud family tradition, but, have become leaders in the move towards humanely and sustainably raised veal.