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.
NSF Global Animal Wellness 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, NSF Global Animal Wellness 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
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.
"Animal welfare is an issue that impacts the agricultural and food production industry across the globe," said Robert Prevendar, Global Managing Director of Supply Chain Food Safety at NSF International. "NSF International's Global Animal Wellness Standards are designed to be relevant in every country, region and market. The standards ensure specifiers, facilities and producers that a strong, consistent animal wellness system is instituted wherever animals and animal products are sourced."
NSF Global Animal Wellness Standards are a key component of the comprehensive animal wellness services provided by NSF International, which include testing, sustainability services, claim verifications and, separately, training and consulting.