AMI welfare guidelines address animal transporting

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON – The American Meat Institute Foundation released its revised Animal Care & Handling Guidelines and Audit Guide, which includes for the first time, auditing guidelines for transporting livestock.

A.M.I.’s Animal Welfare Committee reviews the guidelines and makes changes and enhancements to the document every two years, based on new research and data collected. In addition to the new transportation audit in the 2010 edition, the new guidelines include a helpful grid that details how to evaluate the effectiveness of various stunning methods.

The 2010 edition, was authored by Colorado State University Professor of Animal Science Dr. Temple Grandin, along with the A.M.I.’s Animal Welfare Committee. The latest edition also has been reviewed and certified by the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization.

“The addition of a transportation audit will help us evaluate transportation factors as they impact livestock welfare,” Ms. Grandin said. “By using objective criteria to measure welfare in packing plants since 1999, measurable improvements have been achieved and I believe the new transportation component will help advance welfare even further.”

Ms. Grandin first developed A.M.I.’s guidelines in 1991. In 1997, A.M.I. asked her to create an audit program as a companion to the guidelines. Ultimately, the two documents were merged and have since become a widely recognized standard for ensuring animal welfare in U.S. meat packing plants and in many countries around the world. Many retail and restaurant customers require their meat suppliers use the A.M.I. audit program.

These guidelines are based upon the principle that “You manage what you measure.” By objectively scoring factors like livestock vocalization, how often livestock fall, how often electric prods are used and other factors, the industry has been able to make measurable progress in the decade since the audit program was released. Third-party audit firms now provide the A.M.I. audit and plants score themselves on a regular basis to monitor welfare indicators.

The 120-page document is available for download on A.M.I.’s dedicated animal welfare site http://www.animalhandling.org/.

“The collaborative approach to the development of these guidelines represents the non-competitive spirit that the industry has adopted toward animal welfare,” said A.M.I. Animal Welfare Committee Chairman Glee Goodner, director of hog procurement at Hormel Foods Corporation. “Dr. Grandin’s authorship of these guidelines for the last 20 years has been invaluable to our industry and we are proud of our long-standing partnership with her.”

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