Where food comes from and how it is produced has become increasingly important to consumers in the wake of food safety scares and negative exposure about animal handling. “Consumers want assurances about production practices all the way back to the farm,” says Earl Dotson, chief executive officer for Validus Services. “Our clients throughout the food chain are noting more interest from consumers than ever before.” 

Validus Services has developed a traceability audit that follows product into the processing facility. This service is in response to food industry needs for a credible audit that traces product back to farm level.  Product-specific audits for gestation stall-free pork and cage-free eggs have been developed.  “To date, we have developed audits to respond to the current needs of the food industry,” said Dotson. “Since we are an ISO 9001: 2000 -certified company specializing in on-farm standards and audits, our development process is intensive. All indications, however, are that traceability will continue to be an area of great interest so we will develop additional audits to meet industry needs.”

Validus’ current traceability audits focus on the animal-care and food-safety components of meat, egg and dairy products. A recent Center for Food Integrity survey showed that 37 percent of Americans surveyed believe that farmers are primarily responsible for humane animal treatment, 19 percent believed that regulators were responsible, and 17 percent believed that food companies bore this responsibility. Furthermore, 29 percent of those surveyed disagreed that U.S. meat is derived from humanely treated farm animals. These gaps in consumers' knowledge and actual farm production practices need to be addressed. “The food industry is acutely aware that consumers are becoming more involved, whether through activist influence, online exposure or word of mouth,” Dotson said. “Our goal is to verify that products live up to the claims made so that the food industry can reassure consumers, while potentially realizing incremental sales for products with added value.”

Source: Validus Services