'Industry should set pace' in quality assurance schemes

UK - Quality assurance schemes are vital in building consumer confidence in British products, East Anglian pig producers were told at an Oakwood Veterinary Group seminar at South Elmham Hall, near Harleston.
calendar icon 22 September 2006
clock icon 3 minute read

The event, organised in association with John Mackinnon Consultancy and Pfizer Animal Health, delved into whether such schemes - along with abattoir monitoring, production recording and benchmarking - were swamping the industry with too much red tape.

Simon Watchorn, vice chairman of the National Pig Association's producer group, made a strong case for quality schemes but he felt it was vital for the industry rather than retailers to set the pace.

It was important for schemes to appear credible to the supermarket and spot checks were one way of ensuring this. "If it makes sense to run a business properly for one day a year, it must also make sense on the other 364 days," he said.

Ian Dennis, partner in Oakwood Veterinary Group, agreed that it was important for schemes to be driven by the industry, with independent auditors judging the standards.

"Our role as vets has changed," he said. "Rather than being the policemen, we are now involved in helping to ensure that herd health is good and that husbandry standards are high. This is as it should be."

John Mackinnon, another of the UK's leading pig veterinarians, said he feels that health and food safety issues should be separated from welfare. The industry should work more closely with research establishments to develop more realistic techniques for the assessment of welfare in all production systems.

"Slatted flooring does not necessarily mean poor welfare and outdoor production does not necessarily mean good welfare," he said. "Much depends on the ability of the stockpersons."

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