BRF– one of the largest food companies in the world – joined the Certified Humane® program in 2016 for 33 of their integrated chicken farms in Goiás (Midwest Brazil) and eight turkey farms in Santa Catarina (Southern Brazil) to fully demonstrate their commitment to animal welfare to their consumers. In 2017 the chicken project was renewed with 30 integrated farms, and a new chicken project was certified in Mato Grosso state (Midwest Brazil). BRF produces chicken and pork products sold under the Sadia, Perdigão and other recognized brands. Sadia is the leading chicken and processed food brand offered to the Brazilian market.
“BRF is improving the lives of more than 40 million birds under the Certified Humane® Brasil program,” said Luiz Mazzon, Director of Certified Humane® in South America. “We expect this program to continue to grow as more and more consumers demand humanely-raised food.”
Headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), which launched in 2003, introduced the Certified Humane® program in South America in 2011. The Brazilian office is responsible for overseeing the expansion of the Certified Humane® program and the certification of farms and food animal producers under the Certified Humane Raised and Handled® label in South America.
BRF ranks as one of the ten most innovative companies in the world, according to Forbes Magazine, and one of the 100 most sustainable on the planet, according to the Global Compact 100 Stock Index, which recognizes companies committed to the incorporation of UN Global Compact principles within their business model.
Animal welfare is an essential part of BRF’s culture and strategy and carries out actions towards the humane treatment of animals in all stages of the production process. Since 2014, when BRF signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the NGO World Animal Protection (WAP), the company has been identifying opportunities for improvement and key trends and practices that improve animal welfare.
“Animal welfare for BRF is not a temporary program, but a real cause they work on at multiple levels within the organization,” says Mazzon.
BRF’s commitment to animal welfare is an integral component of the company’s ethical principles, which allows for improvements in the working environment and the human-animal relationship. “We have a team of ambassadors called “Animal Welfare Officials,” who are trained to ensure compliance with these guidelines, commitments, and targets,” says Hugo Urso, Agriculture Director at BRF. “The program includes the assessment of improvement gaps and opportunities, with short-, medium- and long-term plans formulated to ensure the attainment of our goal of maximizing animal welfare.”
According to Urso, BRF maintains a strict policy of zero-tolerance towards animal mistreatment, whether by abuse or negligence. It also relies on standards to provide guidance on best practices that range from the poultry farm to humane slaughter, emergency plans, and transportation.
With these company-wide commitments in place, BRF Sadia wanted to take the next step and become part of Certified Humane’s international certification program, which not only outlines humane standards of care the company must follow, but provides third-party independent inspections and audits to ensure compliance of these standards are being met for consumers.
“In joining the Certified Humane® program, BRF wants to positively transform its entire global chain by acting even more ethically and responsibly,” says Josiane Busatta, Quality Assurance Specialist at BRF. “Its core activity is producing animal proteins, so animal welfare is naturally one of the great causes we advocate not only within our company, but also outside the BRF universe. Certified Humane® is the most internationally-recognized certification program focused on animal welfare. To be certified by this organization is to have a serious seal for our proposal and program.”
BRF has worked closely with renowned British chef Jamie Oliver to develop a new line of Certified Humane® Sadia products in Brazil. “Jamie cares passionately about animal welfare and brings additional expertise to BRF as we continue to innovate and pioneer in the field,” says Busatta. “He also believes, like we do, that Certified Humane® is a claim that consumers can trust and use to make humane buying decisions in the grocery store.”
BRF participates in animal welfare discussions at industry organizations, such as the Brazilian Animal Protein Association (ABPA), Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA), and its research arm, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa). They also share their technical knowledge, make financial contributions, and support scientific congresses on the topic of animal welfare at top universities, such as the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil.
Under the Certified Humane® program, BRF must follow HFAC’s precise Animal Care Standards for the humane treatment of farm animals raised for food production and consent to third party inspections and audits to ensure compliance with the Certified Humane® program. Through the program, farm animals must receive a nutritious diet without preventive use of antibiotics, hormones or animal by-products and must be raised with shelter, resting areas and space sufficient to support natural behaviors, like spreading their wings, perching on posts, living cage-free lives and moving freely on pastures.
The Certified Humane Raised and Handled® label can be found on meat, poultry, egg, and dairy products in five countries – the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Chile, and Peru – as well as Hong Kong.
Adele Douglass, Executive Director for HFAC, says BRF’s commitment to humane farm animal care will resonate with other food producers and farms around the world. “Having one of the largest food companies in the world commit to raising their animals Certified Humane® shows that any producer of any size can commit to raising farm animals humanely,” she says. “BRF will set a high bar that other food producers and farmers will want to follow.”
Since HFAC launched the Certified Humane® program in 2003, more than 140 companies, representing thousands of farms and more than 617 million farm animals, have been raised under HFAC’s precise Animal Care Standards.