DES MOINES, Iowa — Pork producers’ desire for continuous
improvement in production practices and exceeding customers’ demands for quality
assurance measures spurred changes to the voluntary Pork Quality Assurance Plus
Revisions to PQA Plus were announced during World Pork Expo
2013. A part of the pork industry’s We Care initiative, PQA Plus provides a
framework for significant, relevant food safety standards and improved animal
PQA Plus has evolved since its introduction in 1989 with
regular revisions and updates to increase its effectiveness, incorporate new
research information, and ensure the program’s validity with customers.
PQA Plus incorporates 10 Good Production Practices to align
more closely with the We Care initiative principles. Revisions to PQA Plus were
effective June 7.
Farmers and other industry experts who have seen the revised
program embrace the changes.
“There are so many outside influences affecting how we do
business, I think for any industry to come together and realize there needs to
be a training tool to say, ‘These are our set industry practices and standards,’
and self-regulate is very positive,” said Emily Erickson, animal well-being and
quality assurance manager at New Fashion Pork in Minnesota.
“PQA Plus represents a group coming together and determining
what’s best for their industry. It’s hard to go wrong when a set of individuals
are proactive and forward thinking in this way.”
Jan Archer, a farmer from North Carolina, sees additional
benefits to PQA Plus.
“All of our employees are on same page, use the same
vocabulary and understand our common issues,” she said. “It’s a way for us to
impress on our employees how important what they do every day is. We are all
focused, pulling in the same direction.”
The end result is added credibility, according to Archer.
“We are a contract farm. It’s important our integrator knows
how hard we’re working,” she said. “Participating in PQA Plus is demonstrating
The program also serves as a baseline for standard operating
procedures in some instances.
“We feel it’s an important program to help us ensure we’re
doing the right thing and that we’re meeting our quality standards,” said Mike
Faga, director of animal well-being at Iowa Select Farms. “It’s widely accepted
by the packing community and the customers as well who buy our product.”
Participants now must pass a test on questions related to 10
Good Production Practices with a minimum score. Recertification will be
available via an online process after initial certification.
Participating farms must submit a corrective action plan for
all non-compliant findings following site assessments. And trainers and advisers
for the program will receive more extensive instructions and information.
More information on the revised PQA Plus program is
available at www.pork.org/certification.