And for Newswanger Meats, that means leaving a bad end of year in the dust in favor of a strong comeback.
In mid-October, the Shiloh business voluntarily recalled about about 450,000 pounds of fresh and frozen beef, pork, lamb, chicken, venison, rabbit, various dried meat snacks and deli products that were possibly produced under insanitary water conditions.
Newswanger reopened the same month after it began to purchase water from another source. The business was rewarded for its perseverance Feb. 23 and 24 at the Ohio Association of Meat Processors (OAMP), Product Competition in Columbus.
Owner Galen Newswanger brought home six grand champion awards, two reserve championships and one first place award for its meats. All three of his hams (bone in, boneless and semi-boneless) earned grand champion ribbons in their respective classes, as did the ring bologna, pepper loaf and the specialty beef steamship.
The beef steamship, “a marinated roast that is tied with string and then rubbed with spices,” Newswanger said, also went on to win the best of show honors. This means the beef was labeled the best of the all grand champion products at the show.
“We are excited,” Newswanger said.
“All products must be made at the plant entering the competition. No product may be entered that was made by another firm. We make and sell all these products at our 1585 State Route 603 W, Shiloh location.”
The hillbilly jerky and porkroll bologna earned reserve champion statuses and his smoked turkey took first place all in their respective classes.
“It was the best run we’ve ever had,” he said, adding he’s not sure what exactly made the difference this year.
“I don’t know. I know we tried extra hard to see what we could accomplish this year.”
Newswanger said customers can expect the same great tasting, high-quality meats when they visit because the “recipes were no different than what we have in store.”
“For me personally, I would say it means a lot after all these years going to the Ohio Association Meat Processors (competition),” he said.
Various conventions have helped the business perfect its products, the owner added.
“Learning new tips and learning what each ingredient’s function is in each of the meats and how to (make the most of) that function, that helps,” he said. “The hams we have now are a far cry from what they were 10 years ago. They have a more even cure. Adjusting to heating cycles that can either make dry ham or a moist ham — that’s just one of the things you learn at these conventions.”
Newswanger said the family business may have tried a little harder this year because of last year’s set back, but that he’s confident this showed the business is on the right path now.
Last fall, after a routine inspection, a water sample analyzed at a laboratory indicated it tested positive for total coliform bacteria, but without a level quantified.
The sample was negative for E.coli. However, the presence of other coliform bacteria in the water violates the regulatory requirement and the supply is determined to be non-potable.
The business closed for a short period and reopened after purchasing water from another source. Test results have verified there “is no more concern” for the business, Newswanger said.
In the mean time, a new well on the site will allow Newswanger Meats to use its own water supply.
“The new well has been dug; we’re just awaiting water treatment sample results,” he said. I keep hearing, ‘Any day now.’ But then ‘any day’ stretches into weeks. It’d be nice to have that up and running but good things take time, I guess.”