More than ever, today’s consumers are looking for assurance in food safety, animal well-being and protection of natural resources. They want to be assured that animals are well cared for and environmental standards are observed during production.

At the World Pork Expo held last week in Des Moines, Iowa, the pork industry’s ‘We Care’ initiative was a major topic of discussion as a means of providing consumers with that assurance.

The program involves five steps which U.S. pork producers are asked to complete. The five steps include certification in Pork Quality Assurance Plus, the industry’s leading food safety and animal well-being education program. At the Expo, it was announced that producers are urged to achieve PQA Plus certification by June 30, 2010.

In addition, the ‘We Care’ program includes premises identification, site assessment, participation in the Transport Quality Assurance program as well as upholding the industry’s ethical principles.

“The ‘We Care’ initiative has brought producers and allied partners together in support of our industry,” says Steve Weaver, National Pork Board president. “We need to continue to work diligently on this.”

“We’re asking for and we expect pork producers to step forward and embrace all the principles of the ‘We Care’ program,” says Weaver. “It’s something producers have been doing all along but they just need to speak out about it and show it wherever and whenever they can.”

“We’re making great progress on PQA Plus certification,” adds Weaver. “We currently have over 30,000 producers already certified and nearly 4,000 sites have been assessed. It is a primary way for a producer to show commitment to the future of the pork industry and to give that assurance that consumers are looking for.”

The program is intended to demonstrate the industry’s commitment to responsibility and continuous improvement. “Many consumers are not aware that this is what we do,” adds Weaver. “It is what we have been doing all along so we have to get out there and show them.”

PQA Plus certification is the first step for producers. For certification, producers should ask their state pork board for details about the process. In addition, NPB can also help with training and how to complete certification. The certification process is followed up by site assessment. 

See more information on the PQA Plus component of the ‘We Care' initiative.