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Animal Welfare

 

June 25, 2002

MEMORANDUM FOR AMI BOARD OF DIRECTORS, GENERAL MEMBERS, ANIMAL WELFARE COMMITTEE, INSPECTION COMMITTEE, STRATEGIC ADVISORY COMMITTEE 

FROM:

J. PATRICK BOYLE

SUBJECT:

FMI-NCCR REPORT ON ANIMAL WELFARE

Attached you will find the Food Marketing Institute-National Council of Chain Restaurants animal welfare report. The report is a critique of various voluntary animal welfare in place throughout animal agriculture and was written by FMI and NCCR staff, working with their Animal Welfare Expert Advisory Council.

FMI released the report to us today and will release it to the news media Thursday, June 28 at 9 a.m. Eastern.  The Chicago Tribune covered wrote about the FMI-NCCR process in today’s edition. We understand that the Washington Post has contacted FMI seeking an advance copy of the report, which FMI declined to provide.  

While AMI’s own guidelines were endorsed by FMI and NCCR, the report details concerns about a number of production practices with a heavy emphasis on swine production.  In addition, the report says that FMI and NCCR will begin reviewing guidelines for veal calves in late 2002.  FMI and NCCR note that some groups are still developing or refining existing guidelines and that another updated report will be issued in October detailing their experts’ assessments of these efforts.

As you know, AMI has expressed its concerns about the public release of this document to FMI and NCCR.  We believe that any discussion of inadequacies throughout the production chain ultimately undermines consumer confidence in the retail meat and poultry case.  Many other associations and companies have echoed our concerns.  FMI and NCCR have made it clear that they disagree with our point of view.  

Should we receive questions about the report, we will make the following statement:  

“The U.S. meat industry is gratified that AMI’s Recommended Animal Handling Guidelines for Meat Packers and Good Management Practices for Animal Handling and Stunning have been endorsed by the Food Marketing Institute and the National Council of Chain Restaurants Animal Welfare Expert Advisory Council. This endorsement affirms our long-standing commitment to ensuring the welfare of the animals we process and underscores the progressive approaches that the meat industry has taken voluntarily.

Optimal animal handling in meat packing plants is good for animals – and good for business.  Humane treatment of animals is ethically appropriate and creates safer and more productive workplaces and higher quality meat products.  AMI recognized the value of enhancing welfare more than a decade ago when we began a voluntary welfare education program.  Since that time, we have issued two sets of guidelines, two training videos and launched a training conference that is one of the Institute’s largest conferences and still growing every year.

In addition, federally inspected meat plants are subject to the Humane Slaughter Act, which is enforced by USDA inspectors who are in meat packing plants during every minute of operation.  USDA veterinarians can take enforcement actions if they observe any inappropriate handling or stunning of animals, including stopping plant operations.

We are committed to continuous improvement in the area of animal welfare.  We will continue to work cooperatively with retail and restaurant organizations to ensure that we meet our ethical obligations to livestock and our customers’ expectations.  

Animal welfare initiatives are complex because they encompass animal science as well as social and emotional issues.  The challenge ahead is to ensure that science of animal welfare and behavior is paramount.”

Please contact me or AMI Vice President of Public Affairs Janet Riley with any questions.  

   Best wishes.