Health & Welfare
Protecting animal welfare
We ensure that the animals under our care are raised in an environment that satisfies their physical, nutritional and health needs, and that they are treated in a manner that minimizes their distress.
We work extensively with our employees, farmer partners and others to ensure they understand how to properly handle animals with care and dignity. We do not tolerate abusive behavior directed at animals by employees, suppliers or others in our supply chain.
Our history: In 1958, we established a research center outside Minneapolis dedicated to improving animal welfare and nutrition. We have been working to raise the healthiest animals with the utmost dignity and care for more than 70 years.
Innovation: Our innovations have helped improve the handling and care of animals in our operations around the globe. Our livestock handling procedures were designed in consultation with Dr. Temple Grandin, a world renowned animal welfare expert, to help minimize animal stress.
Auditing: We employ a zero-tolerance policy on animal abuse and have created processes that minimize animal stress. Animal welfare is an essential component of how we operate our plants and other company-owned facilities:
- We strictly adhere to North American Meat Institute (NAMI) and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) animal handling standards in addition to annual third-party animal welfare audits.
- We pioneered in the use of third-party remote video auditing (RVA) for animal welfare purposes at all of the company’s beef plants.
Training and certification: Our employees are trained and certified in safe animal handling best practices:
- Our team holds more certified personnel than any other North American beef processor, with 30-plus Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO)-certified auditors and more than 200 participants at the NAMI Animal Care and Handling Conference on staff.
- We are working to meet our goal that by 2018, 90 percent of our U.S. beef cattle supply from feed yards will come from BQA-certified sources. This certification, granted by the NCBA, trains cattle producers in animal handling best practices, including optimal antibiotic usage.
Leadership: We help raise animal stewardship standards across the industry. We co-founded the Food Animal Welfare Network for Beef, a group made up of experts in animal well-being. This commission advocates for increased research funding for animal well-being, facilitates timely communication of research results, and advances science-based best management practices in cattle health and welfare.
Commitment: Cargill is committed to reducing use of antibiotics that are medically important to human health and also used in beef production. Our decision to eliminate use of these antibiotics in our beef cattle takes into consideration customer and consumer desires to protect the long-term medical effectiveness of antibiotics for both people and animals. We balance those desires with our commitment to ensure the health of animals raised for food, which contributes to the production of safer food.
Progress: We are eliminating 20 percent of shared-class antibiotics, those deemed important for human medicine and for farm animals, from our four feed yards in Texas, Kansas and Colorado, and four additional feed yards operated by Friona Industries, a strategic business partner that supplies cattle to Cargill. This change affects approximately 1.2 million cattle annually. When we use antibiotics, we do so judiciously and responsibly, in accordance with regulatory requirements. We do not use medically important growth promoting antibiotics in the cattle we own or source. We also encourage other cattle feeders to evaluate their antibiotic usage.
Alternatives: We continue to explore alternatives to antibiotics that could further reduce their use in beef cattle. We are collaborating with cattle ranchers, researchers, universities and allied partners to identify production practices and viable alternatives that could further reduce use of medicines in animals raised for food. Research projects are underway focusing on nutrition and feeding practices, including work done by our Cargill Animal Nutrition business, a leader in the development of feed ingredients and formulations that have the potential to reduce the need for antibiotics.
Transparency: We are committed to enhancing transparency about antibiotic use and practices with beef cattle. We engage in dialogue with key stakeholders, including consumers and customers, listen to different points of view and share information about actions we take to address this topic.
We focus on maintaining a safe workplace. Our processes and procedures protect the safety of our employees. For example, at our Spruce Grove facility in Canada, we have introduced ergonomic improvements to improve employee safety, such as adjustable stands and mid-shift position rotations.
Cargill is a leader in food safety and we share our knowledge across the industry. Over the past 12 years, we have invested more than $1 billion in food safety technology for our North American protein businesses. We continue to explore new technologies to reduce any foodborne illness-causing bacteria that could pose human health risks. We use Helix, an integrated, real-time reporting system, to continuously monitor meat processing at our plants. With this technology, we can monitor procedural adherence to our food safety programs, product quality specifications and overall performance. Cargill was a leader in the development of two key food safety tools: the hide-on-carcass wash and thermal pasteurization. Both techniques are now widely adopted across the industry. Learn more about how we use the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) model in our facilities and our companywide commitment to food safety.
Temple Grandin: Advocating for transparency
Dr. Temple Grandin has improved animal welfare by designing livestock and harvesting areas at meat processing plants, including at Cargill’s beef and pork facilities in North America. Grandin also advocates greater industry transparency and encouraged third party, remote video auditing (RVA), which Cargill has in all of its beef plants for animal welfare purposes.