A Biosecurity Program Designed to Keep Animals Free of Diseases
Preventing the introduction of disease agents onto and between farms raising animals for food is a critical component of a comprehensive animal health plan. Veterinarian-designed and monitored biosecurity practices are an integral part of maintaining healthy animals. The biosecurity program must include annual training for all farm owners and animal caretakers that regularly enter the area where animals are maintained. Owners and caretakers are required to follow biosecurity procedures for all aspects of farm operations at all times and must use appropriate biosecure personal protective equipment (PPE) when working on their farm.
A Third-Party Audited Animal Welfare Program That Follows Established Science-Based Standards
Best animal care practices are required throughout the entire animal system. Farmers must follow guidelines of care outlined in approved science-based animal welfare programs that cover all areas of the animal production system from birth to harvest. Ongoing monitoring of animal welfare practices and internal audits completed by trained company personnel to assure compliance is required. Participating producers must successfully pass a third-party audit to an approved animal welfare program at least once per year.
A Veterinary Health Program That Includes a Comprehensive Animal Health Plan & Mandates Prompt Treatment of Sick Animals
Prompt treatment of sick animals is required. Farmers must act at defined action thresholds to quickly respond to changes in the health status of animals under their care. If an infectious disease is suspected, then a licensed veterinarian must be notified and order appropriate treatment to remedy the situation. If a veterinarian-ordered treatment is administered, then a treatment outcome assessment is required. Finally, there is a feedback mechanism that requires the veterinarian to be contacted again if the expected response to treatment does not occur within a specified time period.
Responsible Antibiotic Use
Minimize the Development of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Important in Human Illness Originating From Food Animals
Restrictions on the use of antibiotics important in human medicine are intended to minimize the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria important in human illness originating from food animals.
The goal of this program is to restrict the use of human antibiotics to use as little as possible and only for as long as necessary to achieve the desired clinical outcome in infected or clinically ill animals. Those antibiotics may only be administered when prescribed by a licensed veterinarian with a valid client-patient relationship with the farm owner. Antibiotics important to human medicine may be used when deemed medically necessary to treat and control animal illness only and must be administered to the fewest number of animals possible when used. Proper withdrawal times after treatment must be documented prior to harvest to ensure that no harmful antibiotic residues remain in the meat.
Antibiotics that are considered not important to human medicine may be used to maintain animal health and welfare as prescribed by a licensed veterinarian according to FDA regulations. When used properly, these animal-only antibiotics greatly reduce the need for using antibiotics important to human medicine.
Environmental Measurements That Calculate the Carbon Footprint to Produce the Meat and Required Waste Management Programs
This program supports environmental stewardship practices related to the raising of food animals in order to minimize the impact of animal production on the environment. A life cycle assessment calculation to determine the carbon footprint of the animal production system is required as well as certified waste management programs for each farm. These measurements will be used to determine opportunities for evidence-based reduction targets for the respective animal protein groups and to drive improvements in future program revisions to reduce the environmental impacts of participating producers.