Tyson Foods recently provided me with airfare, car rental, and hotel accommodations to tour their company. However, they did not ask me to write this blog post. All opinions and statements in this post are mine.
Last week I got to do something out of my comfort zone, but I am so glad I did it! I came out of my visit with a knowledge I think few people get to have. I got to visit a farm where chickens are raised by a Mom and Pop business for the benefit of Tyson Foods. I toured their state of the art food testing facility, walked through a Cornish Hen factory and ask any question I wanted without worry that something would be off limits. In fact, the depth of details that they allowed me to experience was truly impressive.
If you know me at all, I was not shy. To help in getting to the absolute truth about Tyson Foods, large corporations as a whole and the safety of the food that we put on our tables; I asked readers to ask questions too.
Before I traveled I sent Tyson 20 questions, as I do with most brands I work with. I knew from there I could narrow it down to 10 facts that I felt were most important to my family of readers:
- Hormones are not used in the chickens.
In the 1970’s, it became ILLEGAL to add hormones to any part of the chicken process. In fact, it is now heavily regulated. The process of hatching and raising chickens is monitored and open to the USDA and food safety groups for inspection. There is virtually no way for hormones to get into any of the stock.
- Antibiotics are seldom used in the chickens.
If a farmer feels there is an illness with a chicken, he calls the vet to come examine that chicken with in hours. The farm I toured had not used an antibiotic in over 2 years in any chicken. The farmer doesn’t want the chickens to get sick because it could cause others to get sick. I thought of it like a classroom of children, if one gets sick they all get sick. No one wants that.
- Big Corporations are NOT Killing Family Farms.
Family farms may be suffering because it is hard work and being a farmer is a 24/7, 365 job. It is true labor all day, every day. But Tyson Foods relies on family farms only for their stock. There are no ‘factory’ farms that they have any relationship. Tyson is just a phone call away.
- Chickens are NOT raised in cages.
My trip to the farm was proof they are NOT in cages at all. I walked the whole length of the chicken house. I saw chickens running, playing, eating and drinking. They were free to walk the full chicken house. It was 100 degrees out, the chicken house was 40 degrees cooler. They have a farm style cooling system to ensure these chickens are respected and cared for. They can eat and drink all day and night. The chicken house was actually the most stunning thing about my trip.
- The plants are spotless and HIGHLY regulated.
I walked through a Tyson food processing plant. I watched the USDA sitting next to Tyson employees inspecting in all the different phases of production. I witnessed the USDA make sure we were not impacting the safety of the chickens. I saw million dollar machines in a state of the facility that can detect the smallest of organisms. I met the people that are just like you and me working hard to give us tonights dinner.
- Tyson is a house of many brands.
I was impressed that Tyson very family oriented and wanting to give their families the best of the best. Tyson now has over 25 brands under one roof. They provide more than just chicken to us each day. Beef, pork, dog treats and ready-made meals are just a portion of what they provide to our American families.
- Tyson cares about Education.
They care about education on my levels. Education about how a product they have can be safe. Education about how a product is developed and made. Everywhere I turned there were interns learning from the industries best. They take students from all over the country to learn about agriculture, food sciences, media, business and much more. Being a teacher this was impressive. What better way to learn than hands on!
- Tyson helps feed families healthy foods.
I am a Head Start Teacher and the most powerful part of my time with Tyson, was a small garden that they funded. This garden focused on education as a foundation, nutrients and agriculture. Students from area schools learn about foods and how to grow them, plant them and pick them. They are able to bring the food home to their families also. This program is also open to schools to have “garden clubs” to be able to bring home the food from the school. This is truly farm to table. Each bit of food that goes home also has recipes suggestions to promote positive, affordable food choices.
- Employees rush…..
This title is a bit leading but for good reasons. Employees rush to help! Charity is throughout the Tyson name. Team Rubicon is a mobile command unit that helped during the floods in the south and Hurricane Sandy. There is an internal employee goal of Miles for Meals. Employees work on their own fitness but also donate a meal to a family in need for every mile they walk, run or bike. Tyson offers chances throughout the month to give back. They also give grants to aspiring philanthropists that foster their ideas of giving back to others.
- Tyson doesn’t hide anything
I like to talk and ask questions. Every question I asked was answered. They even provided more information than I needed. Tyson is safe. Tyson cares. Tyson is a house of brands. It is a house of brands I welcome into my home with open arms. I know they care about the families they serve every day because they are a family themselves.