We have created management structures that encourage accountability and promote ownership within our Quality Assurance and Humane Handling teams. Nearly every Pilgrim’s production facility has a full-time quality assurance manager or officer who is responsible for overseeing the implementation of our animal welfare program, which includes facility assessment, training programs and ongoing monitoring. In most facilities, the quality assurance manager reports to the quality assurance director and receives support from the chief animal welfare officer. The quality assurance director reports to the senior vice president or head of quality assurance and technical services (who reports to the president of the business unit) and receives support from the chief animal welfare officer.
The quality assurance director oversees the animal welfare performance of multiple facilities and provides individual facility support by sharing best management practices and offering assistance to address specific issues, should they arise. Each production facility also has an Animal Welfare team comprised of team members from poultry handling, processing, quality assurance, operations, procurement and human resources who make sure the policies and procedures required by the animal welfare program, including annual training of all team members, are being correctly implemented and followed.
Animal welfare is supported further by the chief animal welfare officer, who is also the head veterinarian, who reports to the head of live operations who reports to the president of the business unit. In Europe, our animal welfare officer is certified through an industry-recognized animal welfare training body, Animal Welfare Training Ltd. In addition, all personnel handling chickens must have a certificate of competency (COC), which is an assessed qualification issued by the regional regulatory authorities: Food Standards Agency (FSA) in Great Britain or the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland.
These management structures allow for ownership of compliance at the facility level with strategic regional and corporate support and oversight at the highest levels of our organization. We believe this resilient structure of local ownership, coupled with senior-level support, has led to our strong animal welfare performance and improvements over time.
In addition, our animal welfare programs are often reviewed by animal welfare experts at Colorado State University. These lasting academic partnerships have assisted Pilgrim’s in identifying and investing in additional upgrades to both our facilities and team member training programs to further enhance the welfare of our animals.