Within Animal welfare:
Vion's antibiotics policy
We have banned antibiotics which are critical for humans in all pork supply chain programmes. We want to remain vigilant and are developing a monitoring system to ensure the absence of relevant antibiotic resistance genes in our products. To ensure that our suppliers work according to our policy, we have (in addition to the governmental monitoring programme) implemented our own monitoring programme on the residue of veterinary drugs in the Netherlands. With this risk-based programme, we can ensure that legal withdrawal periods are respected and that no substances are used which our standards do not permit.
The transportation of animals is critical with respect to animal welfare. We have strict guidelines to minimise the stress of animals and ensure animal welfare. There are two important aspects at play with regard to transport: the transport distance and the circumstances in which the animal is transported. We use our decentralised network of appropriately sized locations to have as short a transport distance as possible for all animals. We take a broader responsibility with respect to the welfare of animals delivered to us. In addition to the live animal inspection by the official (external/independent) veterinarian, we conduct standardised checks at every unloading of the animals. Data concerning the condition of the animals received are published every quarter on our transparency website (www.vion-transparency.com).
Our policy during extreme temperatures
We acknowledge that animals can only be transported when weather conditions allow for a stress-free transport. During recent years, weather conditions have changed which have resulted in some days when temperatures have been too high to allow a stress-free transport. Since 2018, we are working according to a protocol to prevent heat stress during transport. This protocol takes effect when a temperature above 27°C is forecasted.
Animal welfare policy at slaughter
All animals within our care are always stunned before slaughtering. The stunning methods used at our plants comply with regulations, such as EU regulation 1099/2009. All animals are individually examined by trained staff between stunning and bleeding. With each sign (e.g. eye reflex) that could be related to sub-optimal stunning practices, an immediate re-stun of a carcass is mandatory. We control animal welfare at all our slaughterhouses with measures that include: Having several of its own employees as animal welfare officers in all slaughterhouses. They are specifically qualified to assess the process and ensure the meeting of all animal welfare guidelines. All animal welfare officers receive regular animal welfare training. Training all employees who interact with live animals in animal welfare. Only trained staff are allowed to handle live animals. Monitoring the outcome of the Welfare Standard Operating Procedures and reporting on the KPIs. Monitoring the effectiveness of stunning and bleeding of all individual animals by trained Vion staff. Applying corrective and preventive actions in the case of non-compliance with internal standards. This is mandatory for each of our production sites. Consolidating and reporting animal welfare KPIs and additional relevant observations to the executive committee. Our expert veterinary team evaluates the performance of the individual farms and hauliers concerning animal welfare and animal health. This team also leads research and development projects to define and develop the next steps in animal welfare control. When the competent authorities issue warnings or fines for a specific element in our process which needs improvement, we always publish those inspection results on our website.