The pork industry’s commitment to the highest standards of animal care has earned a cover story in Quality Assurance magazine, and the message of safe, wholesome food production is resonating with food processors nationwide.

“Food processors and pork producers share a common goal of quality assurance,” says John Johnson, vice president of strategic administration for the Pork Checkoff. “It was great to have two major articles in the July/August edition showcase Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA)  and reinforce the pork industry’s We Care message.”

The cover story, “Iowa Select Farms and the National Pork Board: Science-Based Quality, Safety, and Welfare Practices Protect Animals and Consumers” took readers inside the barns to learn more about daily life on a swine farm.

“Anyone who has regularly visited food or beverage processing plants is accustomed to a range of food safety precautions,” wrote Lisa Lupo, editor of Quality Assurance magazine, who visited Iowa Select Farms’ operations near Iowa Falls earlier this summer. “However, the biosecurity levels of operations such as the sow farms of Iowa take sanitation to an entirely new level.”

Linking animal care and food safety
This reflects the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles that provided the basis for PQA Plus’s 10 Good Production Practices, says Johnson, who notes that food processors must follow strict HACCP standards.

The Quality Assurance cover story also highlighted Iowa Select’s:

• Employee training and testing on science-based animal care and best-management practices.

• Strong support for the Pork Checkoff’s PQA Plus and Transport Quality Assurance certifications, along with a zero-tolerance policy for willful acts of animal neglect or abuse.

• Individual pig care and daily observation in state-of-the-art production facilities. “The way we manage sows individually is the key to our production success,” says P.J. Corns, Iowa Select’s director of sow production.

• Commitment to protecting the environment. “Nutrient-rich manure is in demand as an economical fertilizer, and in the fields around Iowa Select, it takes pig production full circle – feeding the crops that feed the pigs,” wrote Lupo, which added that Iowa Select’s Arends Sow Farm has earned an Environmental Stewardship Award.

• Quarterly third-party audits and transparency through on-farm tours for processing partners and their customers.

Bringing quality pork to the marketplace
Determining best practices for animal welfare and food safety is a balancing act, says Chris Novak, CEO of the National Pork Board. He notes that PQA Plus is being revamped with input from veterinarians, animal scientists and animal welfare experts to ensure that pork producers continue to do what’s best for pigs and people.

“PQA Plus stands as a great example of how farmers seek new and better farming methods to bring quality pork products to the marketplace,” Novak notes in the Quality Assurance article. “This also challenges us to ask, ‘What does the next level look like?’”