Combining animal well-being and food safety, a pork industry coalition has developed a new certification program, the Pork Quality Assurance Plus program.

The program incorporates an animal well-being component, mainly the pork industry’s Swine Welfare Assurance Program, into the Pork Quality Assurance Certification program. It focuses on producer education and premises assessment, with an audit of a representative sample of producers to provide extra credibility for the program. 

Funded by the pork checkoff, the program is the result of more than a year of work by pork producers, packers/processors, restaurants and food retailers. In March 2005, representatives from all of these segments met to understand the needs and challenges of each segments of the pork chain. The Pork Industry Animal Care Coalition found a food-industry solution that would give confidence to consumers that U.S. pork is produced in a way that respects animal well-being.

Danita Rodibaugh, president of the National Pork Board and a pork producer from Indiana, says, “The initial discovery meeting made two things clear. First, demand for pork could suffer if we didn’t address customer concerns on animal well-being in a credible manner. Second, producer support would only be achieved if the solution is practical and affordable.”

“The coalition also agreed that no solution would ever satisfy animal agriculture opponents,” Rodibaugh added. “It’s aimed at answering the concerns of our consumers, not an activist agenda.

“Pork producers know that animal well-being is not only the right thing to do but that it makes business sense,” says Rodibaugh. “We are being asked by our customers to prove that we hold ourselves to a high standard of animal care and we are responding to their concerns in a workable, credible and affordable manner.”

The program will launch on July 1, 2007 and will have a three-year implementation period. Producers interested in testing the program and sharing their input and experiences are can call the PorkServiceCenter at (800) 456- 7675.

 

National Pork Board