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Producers to Ensure Animal Welfare and Food Safety

by 5m Editor
16 June 2009, at 11:01am

MINNESOTA, US - Pork producers do an excellent job producing a safe, nutritious, and economic product. However, today’s consumers want assurances that the products that they eat have been produced in an environmentally responsible and safe manner, and that animals have received good care and welfare while being raised.

In order to assist pork producers in Minnesota to demonstrate their commitment to consumers and the general public, University of Minnesota Extension has teamed up with the Minnesota Pork Board to provide training and certification sessions for producers to become individually certified in Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA+) and Transport Quality Assurance (TQA) programs.

The PQA+ programme, initially developed and implemented in 1989 and revised over the past 20 years, reviews on-farm management practices that enhance food safety while ensuring appropriate animal care and wellbeing. A second portion of the PQA+ program involves assessing production sites. The TQA training sessions educate individuals in pig behaviour, animal handling and transport, and involve passing an open-book exam for certification. State swine Extension specialists, industry experts, and the National Pork Board were involved in development of both programs, and certification lasts three years.

In January, Hormel Foods announced they will require producers supplying hogs to them have all people working with pigs on their farms be individually certified in both the PQA+ and TQA programmes, and that production units be site-assessed by the end of 2009. Since that time, other major packers and hog buyers in the upper Midwest, including JBS-Swift and Tyson, have made similar requests. This represents the majority of buyers of market hogs from Minnesota producers.