Special Report: Food Safety, keep you safe - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Special Report: Food Safety, keep you safe

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NEAR HARMONY, Minn. (KTTC) -- 50 years ago you pretty much knew where your food was coming from. But now, you go to a supermarket and it could come from anywhere in the world. So how can you be sure the food you eat is safe?

In the rural countryside, the food you eat everyday begins it's journey of life coming from producers like Bill Kiehne and his son, Ross.

"You wake up every morning trying to do the best thing for the animal," stated hog producer, Bill Kiehne.

Livestock producers say they take pride in their animals. This is their bread and butter and they say food safety is of the highest importance for them and consumers.

"Number one concern. It's a bad mark against agriculture and producers if something goes wrong," said Bill.

Hog producers across the nation have extensive training, it's called PQA Plus Certification.

"Which means they've taken a class or training or how to properly handle a pig, how to transport a pig, how to treat the pig and how to follow withdrawals to make sure that the meat produced is as safe as possible," explained Ross Kiehne.

The 500 piglets will call their barn home for the next 6 months or so, until they're taken to processing plants, like Hormel. In the meantime, they're monitored daily.

"When I go through the barns I look for the over-all-health of the whole group, but I also try to see every individual pig from head to tail," said Ross.

It was during a routine walk-through that Ross found a little piglet with a hurt toe. Ross is a veterinarian, as well as a hog producer.

"Not a big deal, but I wanted to go ahead and grab it and give it a shot of antibiotic and get it in a pen by itself so it can recover," described Ross.

Before a hog goes into the human food chain all antibiotics must be out of its body to ensure safe, quality pork for the consumer. On a larger scale, hog producers have to watch for foreign diseases that may infect the entire herd, yet another reason why animals are monitored so closely.

"The diseases that occur are containable and controllable. It's a clean environment, that makes a clean animal. All washed up and disinfected at every turn," stated Bill.

Every step of the way livestock producers are taking advantages of technological advances and taking extra precautions for You, the consumer. Why? Because farmers and ranchers know customers deserve only the best product and because trust means everything.

The piglets in this story were about 3 weeks old and weighed around 12 pounds. On average they'll gain nearly 2 pounds per day for the next 6 months.

They're bred to gain weight and fast. By the time they go to a processing plant they'll weigh, on average, about 280 pounds. It's a rotating cycle for producers. They raise a herd of hogs, ship them off to the processing plant and will soon after get a new batch of feeder pigs.

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