Erika Voogd is a well-known consultant to the meat industry. For the past 14 years Ms. Voogd has worked with Dr. Temple Grandin and McDonald's during the implementation of the very tough McDonald's System Animal Welfare standards in Asia, Australia, Latin America and North America. She helped Dr. Grandin train auditors in Asia, Australia and North America and has taught McDonald's System auditors around the world.
Voogd has trained personnel on behalf of the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service to prepare meat plants for export to the United States. She has been an active member of the American Meat Institute Inspection and Animal Welfare Committees. She has presented at AMI Symposiums and Workshops related to HACCP, Food Safety and Animal Handling and similar events around the world.
In short, she knows her business. Few are as well-versed in animal welfare and its direct connection to food safety. So let’s talk about animal rights, animal welfare, food safety and your dinner tonight.
Q. There seems to be a set schedule among animal rights groups – an undercover video depicting horrible animal abuse must be released at least once a month. Those videos create a lot of noise, but does the public get a fair view of the state of animal care?
A. The discouraging news is that these undercover videos can be created. The good news is that the content of some of these videos may be much less “horrible” than the narration or interpretation states. For example: Despite the commentary by Compassion Over Killing, the 2012 Central Valley undercover video showed correct procedures for stunning and re-stunning of cattle. The cattle claimed as “kicking and struggling” after stunning and hanging all appear to be unconscious animals that had been properly stunned to prevent them from feeling pain or fear.
The 2007/2008 Westland/Hallmark undercover video was a wake-up call for the entire industry. Dairy farms, transporters and ultimately the meat plants all received more oversight after this incident. The meat plants that had already embraced humane handling with a “systematic approach” were comfortable with increased government oversight. The plants that may not have been focusing on humane handling received more attention from FSIS and customers. As a result, the industry improved from farm to table. Many plants installed video monitoring after this incident and saw clearly where more training or design changes could benefit their processes and bottom line.