BELGIUM, Brussels. Belpork, the Belgian standard setter of the BePork certification system, has developed an animal welfare module for the Belgian pork industry.
BePork stands for high-quality Belgian pork. The standards, which go beyond legislation, focus on animal health, animal welfare, sustainability, food safety and traceability and were designed for the level of livestock farmers, transport companies, slaughterhouses and cutting plants.
The new module builds on the generic BePork standards and implies far-reaching supra-legal standards that serve solely to improve animal welfare. In addition to the primary stage, the slaughterhouse stage is also covered. The transport stage is already extensively covered in the BePork specifications and is therefore no longer addressed separately in the module. This cross-stage approach stands out from other animal welfare systems at home and abroad, as the latter are often mainly limited to the livestock stage.
Belpork has previously examined the criteria of the farmer level of other international system providers and has come to the conclusion that the new Belgian animal welfare module is in no way inferior to other systems. Thanks to BePork's seamless, multi-stage traceability system, customers at home and abroad can find out at the point of sale which animal welfare criteria the product meets.
The Belgian module is not a rigid system. Thus - analogous to systems in other countries - higher husbandry levels are possible in addition to the entry level. In addition, the module offers food retailers sufficient leeway to distinguish themselves on the basis of their own accents.
In Belgium, animal welfare is the responsibility of the three regions of Flanders, Wallonia and the Brussels-Capital Region. However, the new module is open to all of Belgium. "This is a good and important signal," emphasizes Dr. med. vet. Liesbet Pluym, Belpork coordinator. Under the leadership of the Flemish Minister of Agriculture, Hilde Crevits, the politicians plan to pave the way for all other livestock species to join the voluntary system in the future. Says Pluym, "This will take time, but the most important thing first is that the framework is in place."
The animal welfare module, which livestock producers expect to generate better revenues, is already fully operational. There are still some bureaucratic hurdles to clear before the new label is officially launched. "The light at the end of the tunnel can already be seen," assures the veterinarian.