A NEW certification program has been launched today, demonstrating the livestock industry's commitment to best practice animal welfare standards.
The Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC), the industry’s peak body that represents livestock processors and independent retailers, launched the ‘Australian Livestock Processing Industry Animal Welfare Certification System’ (AAWCS) at the AMIC National Conference on the Gold Coast.
AAWCS is an independently audited certification program used by livestock processors to demonstrate compliance with the processing industry’s best practice animal welfare standards titled the ‘Industry Animal Welfare Standards for Livestock Processing Establishments’ (The Standards).
AMIC Animal Welfare Committee chairman Tom Maguire said good animal welfare practice is a requirement of customers of the Australian meat and livestock Industry both here in Australia and around the world.
“The AAWCS has been developed to help Australian livestock processors demonstrate to their customers their superior commitment to best practice animal welfare," he said.
“The AAWCS covers all animal welfare activities at the processing establishment - from receival of livestock to the point of humane processing."
At the core of the system is a commitment to comply with the ‘Industry Animal Welfare Standards for Livestock Processing Establishments’.
Mr Maguire said the standards integrate Australia’s mandatory animal welfare requirements at livestock processing establishments together with commercial and international requirements into a single best practice animal welfare standard for livestock processors.
“The Standards were first developed in 2005 by an Industry led committee comprising representatives from government, the scientific community, animal welfare organisations, as well as technical experts and Industry representatives; and are regularly reviewed to ensure they remain current," he said.
“The AAWCS introduces an independently audited certification program to underpin the Standards that helps participating livestock processors demonstrate their superior commitment to best practice animal welfare."
Participating livestock processors commit to the certification program rules, requiring them to implement the Standards in their documented Quality Management System, which is overseen by a member of management to make sure best practice animal welfare is maintained at all times.
The Quality Management System includes standard operating procedures, work instructions, monitoring, verification and recording systems, and preventive and corrective actions.
Staff who handle and process livestock must also be competent and trained in the required animal welfare skills. Specific animal welfare training courses provided by MINTRAC, the Industry’s training organisation, are available to help meet this requirement.
“To maintain certification participating livestock processors must also be subject to an annual audit by an approved auditor," Mr Maguire said.
“Auditors under the AAWCS are approved by AUS-MEAT Limited and are required to meet specific animal welfare and auditing competency criteria. This ensures a consistent approach to animal welfare auditing and integrity in the certification process.
“Livestock processors that are certified under the AAWCS also have exclusive rights to use the AAWCS Trademark.
“The Trademark can be used to promote the participant’s certification status to customers and that the establishment’s brands and products have been processed in accordance with the scope of the program - from receival of livestock to the processing establishment to the point of humane processing."
Participation is voluntary and available to any Australian establishment that processes the major commercially farmed species including cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats.
The ‘Australian Livestock Processing Industry Animal Welfare Certification System’ is an initiative of the Australian Meat Industry Council, with support from the Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) and AUS-MEAT Limited.