A program that formalizes and verifies pork industry efforts to operate responsibly has been publicly endorsed by Tyson Foods. The company made the announcement Wednesday at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines.

The ‘We Care’ responsible pork initiative was developed by the National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council to help demonstrate that producers are accountable to established ethical principles. These principles include pork producers’ responsibility in such areas as the environment, public health, employee care and community relations. The initiative also involves the Pork Quality Assurance Plus program, which provides pork producers with guidelines for enhancing food safety and animal well-being.

“We’re proud to support this initiative, which publicly certifies the industry’s ongoing commitment and dedication to responsible pork production,” said Gary Machan, vice president of pork procurement for Tyson Foods. “The principles of this program mirror Tyson’s own core values, which call on us to serve as stewards of the animals, land and environment. They also affirm Tyson’s continuing commitment to meet or exceed customer and consumer expectations.”

As part of its public endorsement of the initiative, Tyson is asking all pork producers who supply the company with hogs to meet the pork industry goal of being certified in the PQA Plus program by June 30, 2010 and to complete a site assessment by Jan. 1, 2011. In addition, Tyson is donating $10,000 to NPPC, which will direct the money to a matching fund program with state organizations to help financially support the on-farm assessments.

“We appreciate Tyson’s willingness to communicate the importance of our ‘We Care’ initiative, and especially the PQA Plus program, to its hog suppliers,” said Chris Novak, chief executive officer of the National Pork Board. “To-date, there are more than 30,000 pork producers who have been certified in PQA Plus.  With the help of food companies like Tyson we expect the number to continue to grow rapidly.” 

“Tyson’s action is welcomed and greatly appreciated,” said Neil Dierks, NPPC chief executive officer. “Tyson’s support for the ‘We Care’ initiative gives weight to the industry’s efforts to produce safe, wholesome, nutritious pork. All pork producers should be certified in the PQA Plus and TQA (Transportation Quality Assurance) programs because providing proper care and handling of pigs at every stage of production is the right thing to do.”

According to the National Pork Board, PQA Plus is a three-part process that includes attending an educational and training session as well as completing an on-farm site evaluation to achieve PQA Plus site status. The program also includes a third component of random, statistically valid, third-party evaluation of program implementation.

“We’re encouraged by producer acceptance of this program,” said Machan. “In fact, we believe many of the 7,500 pork producers who supply our company are already PQA Plus-certified.”

Source: Tyson Foods