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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. In 2007, the program was enhanced and became known as Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus®). PQA Plus is a producer-driven program they can use to ensure U.S. pork products are of the highest quality and safe, and animals raised for food are cared for in a way ensuring their well-being. Modeled after the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) programs used by food manufacturers to ensure the safety of food products, PQA was then customized for on-farm use. It was designed to identify practices with potential to result in a food safety hazard and minimize this potential risk through producer education of 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 three 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 well-being 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.

The updated program reflects pork producers’ commitment to continuous improvement and more fully incorporates the six We Care℠ ethical principles and the role of caretakers. Revisions to the Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA Plus®) program were announced during World Pork Expo 2016.

New research information has been incorporated to increase the program’s effectiveness and to help ensure its validity with customers and consumers. Pork producers maintain a commitment to providing a safe, high-quality product while promoting animal well-being, environmental stewardship and public health.

The 10 Good Production Practices were reorganized and structured to better fit a consistent flow of materials for the caretaker that align with daily tasks formed from the We Care ethical principles, which are now the chapters of the program. Revisions to PQA Plus were effective June 8, 2016.

2016 PQA Plus revisions:

  • We Care: The We Care® ethical principles are now the chapters of this program and the ten Good Production Practices (GPP) are sub-chapters.
  • Good Production Practices: The GPPs were reorganized and structured to better fit a consistent flow of materials for the caretaker that align with daily tasks formed from the We Care ethical principles. Now, the program takes you from the farm entrance (Biosecurity, etc); into the barn (work with vets, caretakers, animals, records, safety and environment); and then finishing with the community (volunteering, etc).
  • Testing: To be certified in PQA Plus, participants will be required to pass a test including questions related to 10 Good Production Practices (GPPs). Participants must achieve a passing score by missing no more than three of the 25 questions.
  • Online Certification: Producers may continue to renew their certifications online through the new interactive learning modules. The online training is divided into 14 individual modules that range from 2-14 minutes each.
  • Site Assessment: The PQA Plus site assessment, which aligns with the Common Swine Industry Audit, helps prepare producers for third party auditors. The assessment covers animals, facilities, caretakers and records which highlight the 27 key aspects of swine care and pre-harvest pork safety for all phases of production.
  • Trainers/Advisors Certifications: During face-to-face training of Trainers and Advisors, more extensive instructions and information will be shared to increase farmer interaction during PQA Plus training.
  • SOP: Flexibility to the certification program allows for customization for larger systems to add in the company’s SOPs.
  • Implementation: All revisions to PQA Plus will be effective June 8, 2016.
  • Antibiotics: To help producers prepare for the implementation of FDA guidance 209 and 213, a 12-page Responsible Antibiotics Use Guide, and extended video coverage are included in this version of PQA Plus.

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).