WASHINGTON, DC – February 22, 2002 – The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR) today announced the release of an interim report on efforts to further develop and support food industry programs that strengthen animal welfare.

“This announcement follows a timeline and scientifically-valid animal welfare program that we believe will demonstrate more progress than has been made in the last decade,” according to Tim Hammonds, FMI President and CEO. “Working with FMI, NCCR, our committee of member companies, and our advisory committee of animal welfare experts, the producer community is making great progress to ensure that the final guidelines meet the standards for sound science and animal welfare across species. Important improvements in existing guidelines have already been made and those issues in need of further work have been identified,” said Hammonds.

The program timeline began with the formal adoption of FMI’s Animal Welfare Policy and Program by its Board of Directors at the FMI Midwinter Conference on January 14, 2001.

In June of 2001, FMI and NCCR announced a formal alliance to address this issue. Since June, FMI and NCCR have been working continuously with their respective member company committees, the producer community and an advisory committee of noted experts in animal science, veterinary medicine and animal welfare.

The program goals are to obtain animal welfare guidelines that have objective, measurable indices for desirable practices in the growing, handling and processing of animals in food production.

In December of 2001, the FMI and NCCR advisers developed three guidance documents that were shared with the producer community.

These documents, designed to foster uniformity, outline three objectives: 1) using a uniform process for determining standards 2) basing guidelines for animal welfare on sound science and 3) developing the measurable audit processes necessary to monitor best practices and assess industry standards across different animal species.

The FMI/NCCR interim report covers these objectives in more depth, and delineates expected next steps in the broad-based animal welfare program. The deadline for completion of the entire program review process is June 2002. According to NCCR President Terrie Dort, “We are committed to overseeing a technical review that includes relevant research, experimental studies, veterinary expertise, producer expertise, an environmental scan of the issues and other measures relevant to species-specific welfare. In addition to our work with the producer community, we have communicated to the USDA our strong support for vigorous enforcement of the Humane Slaughter Act.”

The final program steps underway, include:

  • Comparing existing guidelines with the recommended process and criteria for guideline content and effective audit systems;
  • Recommending changes for modifying, improving and enhancing current practices that do not meet the criteria or do not address appropriate animal welfare issues for each species in their environments;
  • Encouraging scientific research in areas where improvements can be made; and,
  • Reviewing guidelines and best practices periodically to assure they remain current with new information.