As consumers grow more concerned with animal welfare issues, Tyson says beef producers will have to follow on-farm requirements for animal treatment next year if they want to work with the major meat processor.
Tyson made the decision as it’s received customer feedback from major food companies including Whole Foods and McDonald’s. Tyson already requires its hog producers to follow specific guidelines and will now enforce its higher animal welfare standards on beef and poultry producers.
The animal-handling practices will be implemented by a third-party auditor who will visit farms to ensure compliance. The Des Moines Register reports the auditor will review animal handling practices and confirm animals have access to adequate feed and water.
Cattle producers heard the news from Lora Wright, Tyson’s beef supply chain manager, at the Iowa Cattlemen Association’s annual convention. Many of the practices are already practiced, so the change will be in the requirement for producers to document practices.
Following the audit, producers will learn if their practices are approved, in need of improvement, or unacceptable.
Tyson Foods’ FarmCheck program was implemented for all of its pork producers. Wright said the audit system has yet to give a hog farm a rating of ‘unacceptable,’ but did remove an Oklahoma producer from its supply chain after an undercover video found incidents of animal cruelty.
The company’s FarmCheck program ensures the best practices for the farm which are reviewed by a panel of 13 animal welfare experts.