Diners are increasingly demanding transparency around where their food comes from and how it’s produced. This has made menu callouts and certification badges that indicate value-add qualities increasingly valuable and effective tools to assure and inform diners across all segments.
However, it is important to ensure that these symbols have substance behind them to prevent them becoming hollow marketing tools. This fact has not been lost on Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC), which has worked to ensure that its Raised by a Canadian Farmer Animal Care Program (ACP) has real weight behind it.
“The fact is, the Canadian story of animal agriculture is very different than it is in other countries,” says Christine Power, Director of Animal Care & Sustainability, CFC. “Our story provides [Canadians with] peace of mind about the quality of the chicken they are using and selling, along with how it was raised, and the standards being followed on chicken farms from coast to coast. Having a national, mandatory, audited program that all farmers must follow is that assurance.”
Much more than a symbol to indicate Canadian-produced products, the Raised by a Canadian Farmer seal represents adherence to the CFC Animal Care Program (ACP), which enforces the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Chickens, Turkeys and Breeders from Hatchery to Processing Plant on a national scale. This code was developed by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) using input from researchers, veterinarians, national animal-welfare organizations and farmers, as well as public consultation, and emphasizes proper animal care throughout each step of the production cycle.
“Farmers implement the practices in our Animal Care Program with every flock of birds they raise,” Power shares. “They keep records to verify they are indeed following all aspects of the program and are audited regularly to ensure that the right practices are in place.”
And, to ensure the integrity of the program, third-party audits are performed by NSF International — an internationally recognized third-party certification body. “Saying what we do and how we do it is important, but being able to verify that our practices and standards are then audited is a point of reassurance to our industry partners and consumers,” explains Power.
“And, that’s important in a time where consumers are asking for more accountability and transparency into where their food comes from.”
Not only are these standards enforced, but they are designed to continuously evolve, keeping pace with scientific developments in fields such as animal welfare, animal husbandry and disease prevention. This approach helps drive innovation and improvement while also allowing the program to function as a way to provide continuing education about best practices to farmers.