U.S. pork producers have a long tradition of social responsibility. The tradition includes
the development of producer/certification programs that producers can use to ensure that U.S. pork products are of the highest quality and safe, and that the animals raised for food are cared for in a way that ensures their well-being.
In 1989, pork producers developed the Pork Quality Assurance® program, a producer education and certification program to reduce the risk of violative animal health product residues in pork.
The program, better known as PQA®, was modeled after the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) programs used by food manufacturers to ensure the safety of food products, but customized for on-farm use. PQA was designed to identify the practices with potential to result in a food safety hazard and minimize this potential risk through producer education on relevant on-farm practices.
The success of the program was demonstrated by significant producer participation, customer acceptance and more importantly, a measurable reduction in the instances of violative residues in pork. The program was revised repeatedly, approximately every 5 years, with updated content taken from new scientific knowledge, and to address the evolving industry and changing production practices.
As consumers show greater interest in the attributes of the products they purchase for food, their interest in the wellbeing of the animals raised by pork producers has come to the forefront. Producers understand this and since the mid- 1990s have had programs and educational materials in place to help them care for their animals in a manner that promotes animal well-being.
In 2007, PQA evolved into PQA Plus® to reflect increasing customer and consumer interest in the way food animals are raised. PQA Plus was built as a continuous improvement program. Maintaining its food safety tradition to ensure that U.S. pork products continue to be recognized domestically and internationally as the highest quality and safest available, it also provides information to ensure producers can measure, track and continuously improve animal wellbeing. With PQA Plus, pork producers have another tool to demonstrate that they are socially responsible.
The PQA Plus program achieves its goals through:
- Producer training by a certified PQA Plus advisor which results in the producer receiving PQA Plus certification
- An objective assessment of on-farm animal well-being which, when combined with the education of the producer through PQA Plus certification, results in the farm receiving PQA Plus site status.
- A PQA Plus survey designed to evaluate the implementation of PQA Plus in the industry. Survey results are used to identify opportunities for improvement of the program’s information and delivery.
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National Pork Board may modify, amend or terminate the TQA™, Youth PQA Plus®, PQA Plus® and all other certification programs without notice. Further, the Board in its sole discretion may terminate or condition a participant’s continued eligibility for, participation in, and/or use of any rights, license or benefits under such program(s).