US - Smithfield Foods has backed US supermarket giant Walmart in its release of the company's new animal welfare and antibiotics positions.
Smithfield is already compliant with the newly announced policies on its company-owned farms and encourages the rest of the industry to develop programmes consistent with these guidelines.
Smithfield ceased using human-grade antibiotics for growth promotion in its pigs on company-owned and contract farms more than two years ago. This move voluntarily aligned Smithfield with the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) guidelines 209 and 213 years ahead of schedule.
"We understand that potential antibiotic resistance is a public health concern, and that's why we are leading the pork industry in ensuring the responsible use of antibiotics within our operations," said C. Larry Pope, Smithfield's president and chief executive officer (pictured).
In addition, back in 2007 Smithfield Foods was the first in its industry to announce that it would transition pregnant sows to group housing systems on its company-owned operations in the US.
The company reported that as of December 2014, more than 71 per cent —or seven out of every 10—of its pregnant sows on company-owned farms had been transitioned to group housing. The project should be completed by 2017.
"We've accepted our role as the world's largest pork producer and have led the charge by addressing challenging issues facing the industry while improving our sustainability program and processes to meet the ever-changing needs and demands of our customers and consumers," Mr Pope said.
In citing Smithfield's leadership position, Mr Pope listed:
- Voluntarily aligning Smithfield's antibiotics policy with FDA guidelines by ending the use of human-grade antibiotics for growth promotion;
- Being the only company in the industry to report its antibiotics usage, which the company has done since 2007;
- Being the first pork industry company to commit in 2007 to providing group housing for its pregnant sows on company-owned farms;
- Implementing a sustainability program with goals, targets and benchmarks for industry-leading programs;
- Being first in the industry to achieve ISO 14001 environmental certification for all of the company's farms and pork processing facilities worldwide;
- Being the first pork producer to develop and implement a comprehensive, systematic animal welfare management program to monitor and measure animal well-being;
- Removing ractopamine from feed for all company-owned animals supplied to our processing facilities.
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