Over 26,000 U.S. pork producers have received Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) certification, according to a recent report from Erik Risa, manager of education programs for the Pork Checkoff. The number of sites that have received PQA Plus site status has also grown.

In addition, over 16,600 individuals have been certified in the companion Transport Quality Assurance (TQA) program.

Adding to the momentum is an announcement from one of the nation’s largest pork production systems, Murphy-Brown LLC based in Warsaw, NC, noting that PQA Plus certification training and farm site assessments of all its company-owned and contract grower-owned swine production operation managers and farms in the United States will be completed before the end of 2009.

In December 2008, Hormel Foods also formalized its support of the PQA Plus and TQA programs by requiring its producer suppliers to be certified and have their sites assessed under PQA Plus. Hormel also will require that all who transport hogs to its plants be certified in TQA.

“Thousands of responsible pork producers from around the nation have demonstrated their commitment to the health and well-being of the animals in their care, and to providing a safe and wholesome product to their customers by participating in PQA Plus," Risa said. "We are excited that the momentum behind the program continues to build."

At the recent Pork Industry Forum in Dallas, TX, pork producer delegates voted overwhelmingly in support of PQA Plus. "Participating in PQA Plus by getting PQA Plus-certified and by having an assessment of animal well-being practices conducted on their farms is another way pork producers can demonstrate to the industry's customers that they do the right thing on their operations every day," Risa added.

PQA Plus is the industry's flagship pork safety, antimicrobial use and animal well-being program. The program demonstrates to customers, consumers and the public that the pork industry is committed to the responsible production of safe and wholesome pork product. More information on PQA Plus can be found online.