The Oregon Natural Meats system is integrated for optimum supply-chain management. The components of our process include:
Animal Selection -
Our unique approach to business starts with proper and focused animal selection. We use our own cattle in the program as well as animals purchased from farms and ranches in the Pacific Northwest.
Each animal is accompanied by an affidavit signed by the seller that verifies the source of origin and production practices. Cattle are verified to be pasture-raised and cruelty-free. We require that our suppliers practice strong and aggressive herd health programs, including vaccination against respiratory and chlostridial diseases. We encourage our suppliers to implement systems to control internal and external parasites, as well as provide nutrition that supports the animals’ immune systems while providing a balanced diet, including minerals and vitamins.
We do not allow animals into our program that have been administered growth promotants, hormone supplements or antibiotics. If an animal becomes ill, we encourage the supplier to treat it in a humane manner (which may include antibiotics), but we will not use that animal for our program.
Animal Finishing – Animals purchased or raised for our program are finished in close proximity to our corporate headquarters in Eugene. This minimizes the distance animals and feed must travel, and reduces the carbon “hoof print” of our operation. Cattle finishing involves a closely managed diet of feed, forage, vitamins and minerals. We include in our finishing ration upcycled brewer’s grain, which is a high-quality source of energy and protein, and/or upcycled grass pellets. Our cattle finishers use a 100% vegetarian diet without animal by-products, and never feed hormones or antibiotics. Any animals treated for illness are identified and NOT used for our program. Cattle finishers provide a signed affidavit to ONM at the time of delivery to the processing facility.
The Conversion Process (Animals into Meat) - Although a sensitive and unpleasant topic, it is helpful to understand the care with which we convert live animals to meat products. One of the primary benefits of being a local company is the short distances animals must travel to the processing facility, thereby reducing the stress commonly associated with loading, trucking, crowding, and unloading of animals. An additional benefit is the rural location of the facility we use near Eugene, Oregon. We process our cattle at a small-scale and family-owned and operated processing facility, with a dedicated staff of experts who give great attention to detail during the sacrifice, slaughter and processing of Oregon Natural Meats cattle. The facility processes at a casual pace rather than at a breakneck pace common in larger plants. This allows for proper handling of the animals, attention to details during the conversion process, and extra time for food safety and pathogen reduction programs. The facility is registered with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and is federally inspected.
Dry Aging -
Proper handling after sacrifice, including the aging process, is the key to high-quality beef products. We place beef carcasses into a carefully controlled cooler for a dry aging process, which has a dual benefit to consumers. First, the controlled aging process allows the natural enzymes in the muscles to slowly break down the muscle in a natural way, enhancing tenderness and adding a mild but robust flavor to the meat. Second, the dry aging process, which takes place in a cooler at 40 degrees (F) or lower, reduces the potential for contamination from E. coli and other harmful pathogens. Research by the University of Wisconsin at Madison has demonstrated a significant food safety benefit associated with dry aging of carcasses prior to cutting, bagging and boxing. http://www.meathaccp.wisc.edu/assets/Beef%20Slaughter/CL_%20summary%20of%206-day%20dry-aging.pdf
Meat Processing -
After the dry aging period, carcasses are carefully cut into popular wholesale cuts of beef, stew meat and ground beef items. Employees at the processing facility are well trained and monitored for quality assurance, attention to detail and safety. All cuts of meat are closely trimmed (1/8 inch fat trim), and are “knife-ready” for customers to convert into high-quality steaks and roasts. Slow line speeds, quality assurance oversight, and solid food safety systems result in premium quality and safety for our customers. High-quality vacuum packaging and boxing protect our products from the time of processing until delivery to your location.
Additional Aging -
After the processing steps are completed, the vacuum packaged and boxed wholesale cuts of meat are placed in temperature-controlled coolers for additional aging. This second aging step before distribution allows for additional tenderness and flavor from the meat. Research has demonstrated that meat reaches its optimum tenderness between 14 and 21 days after sacrifice, and that properly vacuum packaged meat can safely be held for this period of time and much more.
Ground beef and stew meat items are not aged after processing, but are distributed promptly to preserve meat quality during transport and preparation.