KANSAS CITY, MO. – As part of a program that drew an estimated 300 attendees, the head of one of the industry’s largest pork processing companies provided tips for other companies developing animal welfare programs during a March 25 presentation at the American Meat Institute’s Animal Care & Handling Conference. Kicking off the two-day conference, which has been held annually since 1998, Glee Goodner, corporate manager of animal welfare and handling with Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Foods Corp., said treating livestock humanely is not only the right thing to, but the only thing to do for companies in the meat business. Citing resources that are available from the A.M.I., the National Pork Board and animal handling expert, Dr. Temple Grandin (www.grandin.com), Mr. Goodner said developing and following a program is a necessity for all processors.  

“Ignorance is no excuse,” he said. “You must know the rules and guidelines and live them,” adding that application of the principles must occur on “every single hog.”

As companies develop their programs, Mr. Goodner stressed the importance of making the corporate policy on proper handling of livestock posted throughout processing plants and that explanation of the policy should be supported with ongoing training for employees working with livestock. To ensure procedures are followed, internal and external auditing of the operations is important, he said. Results of audits, corrective actions, training verification and program details all should be documented and stored in a centrally located area. Mr. Goodner also suggested posting emergency phone numbers and a whistleblower phone number where employees can anonymously report animal handling concerns to management. As part of employee training, he said workers should be required to sign agreements that they understand and will comply with the company’s animal welfare policy, “including language that they will report abuse immediately,” he said.

Among the most important messages in training is “Do it right every time,” said Mr. Goodner. He added that non-compliance should never be overlooked and corrective actions must always be taken.