Animal Stewardship Policy
Hormel Foods is dedicated to doing things the right way in everything we do. That includes our animal stewardship practices. To maintain our high standards, we have developed the following principles to guide our animal care and handling procedures.
- All farms will provide a balanced and nutritious diet and water.
- A safe and humane environment will be furnished for every animal throughout its life, including minimizing stress, managing social needs and controlling temperature.
- Every facility will be properly maintained with the animals’ well-being in mind, including appropriate facilities and space and the utilization of compassionate, stress-reducing techniques during handling.
- Animals will be raised to be healthy and provided with the best in medical care, including veterinary oversight and the identification and prompt treatment of sick animals. When medically necessary, we use antibiotics responsibly and focus on reducing the use of antibiotics that are important to human health.
- We will follow clearly documented humane procedures in the event an animal requires euthanization.
We have developed industry-leading standards in conjunction with animal care experts, including renowned authorities on humane animal husbandry. These veterinarians and animal experts help us to create a blueprint that ensures every animal is raised in a healthy environment and treated with care, respect and compassion throughout their entire life. Our network of family farm suppliers understands and shares these values.
Hormel Foods has a zero-tolerance policy toward the mistreatment of animals through abuse or neglect. We have strict requirements related to animal care, overseen by veterinarians, third-party experts and a team of animal welfare professionals at Hormel Foods.
Animal Welfare Management
In 2009, Hormel Foods created the animal welfare and handling manager position, whose sole responsibility is to enforce our stringent standards for animal welfare at all domestic production sites.
Routine audits are conducted at our facilities and we hire third-party auditors to gather information to continuously improve our animal welfare procedures. In addition, employees have a confidential hotline so they can anonymously report any animal welfare procedure that does not meet our standards.
To ensure the accountability of our animal welfare standards, we have several animal welfare committees in place. In 2016, Hormel Foods implemented a corporate Animal Welfare Steering Committee and an Animal Welfare Committee at each hog-harvesting facility. This is in addition to the Jennie-O Turkey Store Animal Welfare Review Board that has been in place for many years.
We raise our hogs and turkeys in climate-controlled barns that keep them healthier and protect them from predators, diseases and extreme weather conditions. In addition, all of the turkeys raised by Jennie-O Turkey Store are housed in open barns and our company-owned hog farm has transitioned to group sow housing.
We expect all of our employees and suppliers to follow our standards when treating and handling animals. Employees and producers regularly review, agree to and follow a personal pledge of conduct, which outlines our principles for animal welfare and handling.
At our processing plants, all personnel involved in receiving hogs and turkeys are routinely trained in the proper and humane handling of all animals.
We also conduct routine audits at our facilities by trained, internal auditors and third-party auditors. Information collected from each audit is then used to continuously improve our animal handling procedures.
We understand the importance of using antibiotics responsibly in all settings, including animal agriculture, and our responsibility to reduce the use of medically important antibiotics in order to maintain their effectiveness. Protecting human health and the health of our animals is of the utmost importance and we are proud of our ongoing stewardship efforts:
- Reducing the use of antibiotics — Reducing the need for antibiotics has been and continues to be important to us. We continue to focus our efforts on keeping our animals healthy so that antibiotics aren’t needed. For example, we employ seven veterinarians at our Jennie-O Turkey Store subsidiary — more than any other turkey company in the industry — and partnered with a leading animal veterinary clinic to help define long-term health strategies for our company-owned hog farm. We also continue to research ways to use products such as probiotics and phytobiotics to maintain animal health and welfare for turkeys. In addition, veterinarians monitor and evaluate the health and welfare of all of our animals, as well as our antibiotic use, on an ongoing basis.
- Responsible use of antibiotics — We comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s industry guidance that eliminates the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion. While we continue to make reductions in antibiotic use, we believe the responsible use of antibiotics includes the appropriate treatment of sick animals. When antibiotics are needed to properly care for an animal, only approved medications and dosage levels are used under the direction of a veterinarian. In addition, Hormel Foods has a leading animal welfare auditing program and ensuring the responsible use of antibiotics is a key part of that program.
- Raised without antibiotics — Hormel Foods has invested in producing raised-without-antibiotics products. In fact, our purchase of Applegate is a significant commitment in this regard. Our Applegate® product portfolio is produced entirely from animals raised without antibiotics. If antibiotics are given to an animal, that animal does not enter the Applegate supply chain. In addition, our Jennie-O Turkey Store subsidiary produces several raised-without-antibiotics products.
- Partnerships — To further demonstrate our commitment to this important issue, in 2015 we formed an Antibiotic Working Group comprised of internal subject-matter experts, leading non-governmental organizations, including the Pew Charitable Trusts, Farm Foundation and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, veterinarians and other stakeholders to discuss and continue to advance this important industry topic. We also review and explore research opportunities and will continue to participate in industry antibiotic initiatives.
In 2018, Hormel Foods along with other food companies, retailers, livestock producers and trade and professional associations announced a comprehensive framework to strengthen stewardship of antibiotic use in food animals. The framework was part of a two-year dialogue with stakeholders, moderated by the Farm Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts, to ensure that antibiotics are used judiciously throughout production to protect animal and public health.
The 15 core components of the antibiotic stewardship framework are based on the importance of veterinary guidance and partnership, disease prevention strategies and optimal treatment approaches, as well as effective record keeping and a culture of continuous improvement and commitment to antibiotic stewardship. The components address education, implementation and evaluation steps for phasing in stewardship programs. The framework’s guiding principles are intended to hep ensure that stewardship programs have a clear scientific basis, are transparent, minimize the risk of unintended consequences, encourage alternatives to antibiotics, and focus on long-term sustainability.
A key component of the industry framework is reporting and measurement. Hormel Foods is working with others in the industry to create a systemwide measurement plan and protocol that can be used consistently within the farm industry.
As we continue and expand upon our antibiotic stewardship efforts, we will provide updates. Additional information about our animal welfare efforts can be found in our corporate responsibility report.
Michelle Kromm, director of production, nutrition and technical services at Jennie-O Turkey Store discusses how her team takes care of turkeys for optimal health.
Research, Innovation and Investment
At our facilities, we monitor scientific findings to continually evaluate, invest in and develop new ways to improve our hog and turkey handling processes.
For example, we operate a state-of-the-art hog holding facility at our Austin (Minn.) Plant, which was designed to maximize the animal welfare quality and working conditions for our employees. We have also received a patent for our process related to improving turkey handling at Jennie-O Turkey Store.
Hormel Foods is recognized as a leader within the hog and turkey industries for developing and implementing best-practice animal welfare handling procedures. We share our best practices and state-of-the-art facility designs with our peers and other industry stakeholders, and offer them in-person tours of our facilities. We also consult with subject-matter experts, such as veterinarians, to update and maintain our practices.
As part of the Professional Animal Auditors Certification Organization (PAACO), we invite participants to our hog and turkey facilities as part of the real-world training component of its program. Several members of the Jennie-O Turkey Store and Hormel Foods teams are PAACO-certified auditors.
In addition, to help ensure new research within the turkey industry, Jennie-O Turkey Store provides support to the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, the Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council, and the National Turkey Federation.
We are also proud to have representatives serving as members, officers and directors of the boards of many industry organizations, including:
- Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska;
- American Association of Poultry Pathologists;
- American College of Poultry Veterinarians;
- American College of Poultry Veterinarians Continuing Education Committee;
- American Meat Science Association;
- American Veterinary Medical Association;
- American Veterinary Medical Association Agricultural Liaison Committee;
- American Veterinary Medical Association Clinical Practitioners Advisory Committee;
- Animal Agriculture Alliance;
- Association of Avian Pathologists Animal Welfare Committee;
- Association of Avian Pathologists Board of Directors;
- Association of Avian Pathologists Drugs and Therapeutics Committee;
- Association of Veterinarians in Turkey Production;
- Colorado Farm Bureau;
- Colorado Livestock Association;
- Colorado Pork Producers Association Board of Directors;
- Consumer Brands Association;
- Global Food Safety Initiative;
- Institute of Food Technologists;
- International Association of Food Protection;
- Midwest Poultry Research Committee;
- Minnesota Board of Animal Health Emergency Disease Management Committee;
- Minnesota Agricultural Utilization Research Institute;
- Minnesota AgriGrowth Council Board of Directors;
- Minnesota Poultry Federation;
- Minnesota Turkey Growers Association Board of Directors;
- Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council;
- National Grain and Feed Association;
- National Pork Board;
- National Pork Producers Council (NPPC);
- North American Meat Institute Board of Directors;
- North American Meat Institute Animal Welfare Committee;
- North American Meat Institute Scientific Affairs Committee;
- North American Meat Institute Foundation of Meat and Poultry Research and Education;
- NPPC Animal Health and Food Security Policy Committee;
- National Turkey Federation’s Board of Directors;
- National Turkey Federation’s Executive Committee;
- National Turkey Federation’s Health and Welfare Committee;
- National Turkey Federation’s Live Production Committee;
- National Turkey Federation’s Technical and Regulatory Affairs Committee;
- National Turkey Federation’s Turkey Health Task Force;
- Poultry Science Association;
- Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization;
- State of Wisconsin Livestock Facility Siting Review Board;
- United States Animal Health Association;
- University of Wisconsin Meat Science Advisory Board;
- University of Wisconsin Poultry Science Advisory Committee;
- USPOULTRY Foundation Research Advisory Committee;
- Wisconsin Poultry & Egg Association; and
- World Poultry Association.