There are many different trends impacting the way in which consumers are buying meat and poultry products. First, with less than 1% of people in the United States claiming farming as an occupation, it’s only natural that consumers can feel disconnected and unsure about how their food gets from family farms to family dinner tables. This, when coupled with negative stories in the news media showing questionable animal care practices and food safety issues (which, by the way, are exceptions and don’t reflect the values of the entire industry!) shake consumer confidence.
Given this, the “shaking” is certainly fair, but it’s very unfortunate. So—what are companies in agriculture doing to help build the trust and confidence of today’s consumers? Today’s consumers are savvier than ever and they want information—this newsletter is a perfect example. Today’s consumers are reading labels, asking great questions and doing their homework. This gives us, in agriculture, hope and reason to celebrate, because it gives us an opportunity to tell our story. At the same time, we also have our work cut out for us. Consumers deserve to be shown—in real, measurable, and tangible ways—that we’re living up to our promise to delivery quality food safely, humanely, and responsibly.
One way of doing this is through third-party certification—or “proving” from an unbiased, outside perspective that a company’s practices are proven to be reliable and effective. One family-owned, Minnesota-based company—GNP Company™ (formerly known as Gold’n Plump Poultry)—has recently demonstrated their commitment to both food safety and animal welfare by seeking outside, third-party organizations to verify their processes and grant them certification in two important areas. GNP Company is the maker of premium, natural chicken brands, Gold’n Plump® and Just BARE® chicken.
The company has three processing facilities (Cold Spring and Luverne, Minnesota and Arcadia, Wisconsin) which were Safe Quality Foods 2000 Level 2 certified by the Safe Quality Foods Institute (SQFI) in January 2011 and recertified in 2012 (annual recertification is required). What this means is that an independent auditing agency has determined that GNP Company’s food safety and quality management systems comply with international and domestic food safety regulations. In other words, it should give consumers peace of mind and proof that the company is doing what they say they do to deliver wholesome, safe, quality food.
In addition, the company announced in February 2012 that it passed the rigorous American Humane Certified® Standards conducted by the American Humane Association for the raising of farm animals. The company did this, based on research that showed that 91% of “mindful eaters” (those who think before they eat) rated third-party animal humane certification as extremely or very important. The American Humane Certified® logo is currently featured on packages of Just BARE®.
Following are More Details About the Program:
What is the American Humane Certified® Farm Program?
The American Humane Certified® Farm Program was the nation’s first and is the fastest growing third-party audit program for farm animal welfare. It is backed by the American Humane Association™ (AHA) and is based on the accepted values of the Five Freedoms, as created by the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) and adopted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
Animal Welfare — The Five Freedoms
- Freedom from Hunger and Thirst
- Freedom from Discomfort
- Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease
- Freedom to Express Normal Behavior
- Freedom from Fear and Distress
Why Did Just BARE® Choose to Work with this Program Instead of Another?
The American Humane Certified® Farm Program was chosen because it is backed by the American Humane Association (AHA). Since its start in 1877, it has been at the forefront of almost every major advance in protecting children, pets and farm animals from cruelty, abuse, and neglect. Plus, its farm program standards are based on science and sound research, guided by a scientific advisory committee of renowned animal welfare experts.
What Did You Have to do to Become Certified? What Does it Take to Stay Certified?
Facilities, locations and processes involved in the raising, handling and processing of Just BARE® flocks were audited against stringent, American Humane Certified® standards. Audited facilities included our hatchery, live-haul and transport operations, chick handling processes and equipment, live receiving and a primary processing facility. A full audit was conducted on 50 percent of the grow-out barns managed by our independent family farm partners and walk-through audits on the remaining 50 percent. Annual audits are required to remain certified.
What Did It Take to Pass?
Facilities, locations and processes were individually audited and graded against hundreds of specific standards. Some examples include how much space birds have to move around in the barn, location and number of feeders and drinkers, condition of heating and cooling systems, proof of annual animal welfare training, etc. An overall score of 85 is required to pass. Operations for Just BARE scored well above that.
What are the Real Benefits of Having this Certification?
The key benefits of certification are the access to leading thinking on animal welfare from the AHA and the added consumer trust and confidence third-party certification provides. In addition, third-party certification elevates the transparency of our practices by subjecting them to a rigorous third-party review and requiring ongoing reporting to verify performance.
About the Just BARE® Brand
Just BARE is a brand of premium, all natural chicken (nothing added) and is distributed by GNP Company™, based in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Chickens for Just BARE are never, ever given antibiotics and are fed a vegetarian and grain diet, with no animal by-products. Each package of Just BARE features a three-digit traceability code that allows consumers to learn more about the location and farm family that raised the chicken inside their package. In addition to carrying the American Humane® Certified logo, the brand also carries a carbon reduction logo to show its commitment to lightening its footprint.
Interested in Learning More?
For additional information about what the company is doing to make a difference in Minnesota, or to review the company’s annual Farm to Fork Report, you may visit gnpcompany.com, justbarechicken.com and goldnplump.com.
Little Known Facts — Did You Know?
- Broiler chickens (chickens raised for meat) are never caged.
- The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits the use of hormones and steroids from being used in poultry production.