Best Practices NSF introduces Global Animal Wellness Standards
As the food industry becomes increasingly attuned to consumer and investor expectations and the high demand for transparent animal welfare practices, it’s becoming imperative for organizations to define, implement and measure proper management systems for animal health, welfare, handling and care.
The standards establish best practices by benchmarking against global animal welfare regulations and domestic animal welfare regulatory requirements, industry standards and codes of practices. Inspired by the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare and consistent with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) guidelines, the standards establish clear criteria to verify robust animal wellness management systems for beef and dairy cattle, poultry (including egg-laying), small ruminants and hogs.
The standards are globally applicable, as they account for variability in regulatory requirements and variations in consumer pressure. Key areas include:
- Animal sources, health and safety
- Design, maintenance and protection in animal environment, facilities and equipment
- Animal handling, husbandry and management commitment to animal wellness culture
- Feed and water
Developed by NSF International, the Global Animal Wellness Standards were reviewed by an independent panel representing industry, academia and regulatory authorities. Technical experts from Canada, the US, the UK and South America were selected for their expertise including Dr. Temple Grandin, a Colorado State University animal science professor and livestock consultant. Dr. Grandin directly contributed to the review of the NSF Religious Slaughter standards, a component of the Global Animal Wellness Standards.
To achieve compliance, a facility must establish, document and implement an animal welfare management system. The standards have three tiers so there is opportunity for specifying customers to bring suppliers on board at the baseline, but encourage growth and development to achieve higher levels of compliance. The baseline level provides an entry point for farms or facilities in developing markets where practices have not yet been formalized. The next tier is “assurance” and provides specifiers with confidence that suppliers are operating with best practices in animal wellness. The third and highest tier is “certification” which demonstrates total commitment and compliance. All levels require independent audits to verify compliance and include zero tolerance for animal abuse, mistreatment or neglect.