Continuous Improvement: Animal Welfare Audits

FSNS C&A has enjoyed a long standing relationship with Dr. Temple Grandin, who is widely recognized as the world’s leading expert in animal welfare. Dr. Grandin’s insights, research, and facility designs have revolutionized the livestock industry – approximately half of all cattle harvested in North America are handled in facilities she has designed. In the 90’s, Dr. Grandin’s efforts at collecting data on handling categories in slaughter plants benchmarked standards that are used extensively today across the industry.

When compared to some of the other disciplines within the sciences, animal welfare is truly an emerging field. This creates a unique climate in an area that faces exponentially increasing societal scrutiny. The pressure to provide assurance about the humane and ethical care of animals in the food chain will only continue to grow, and it is our belief that our partnership with Dr. Grandin along with the expertise of our team puts us in an excellent position to address these challenges through our verification process.

Dr. Grandin has dedicated her life to the process of continuous improvement in animal welfare, and this philosophy is the cornerstone of our audit division. Perhaps what makes our partnership with Dr. Grandin most significant is her ability to reach audiences from all walks of life on a global level. One would be hard pressed to name another animal scientist who has become a household name as Dr. Grandin has. This has incredible implications for the food industry, as Dr. Grandin works tirelessly for continuous improvement in her field, all the while educating an audience for whom this interaction might be the only exposure they have to food animal production. Though the exact figure is elusive, some state that on a national level, the average person is 3-5 generations removed from direct experience with agriculture. What this means is that knowledge that was previously passed down through generations is not being transmitted the same way, and the subject matter is challenging to appreciate without that kind of firsthand knowledge. This is why Dr. Grandin’s advocacy is so critical: she uses every opportunity in her interactions with audiences to address this information gap with her cardinal transparency.

Perhaps the best illustration of this point is one of Dr. Grandin’s most recent accomplishments. In early October, she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The American Academy serves the nation as a champion of scholarship, civil dialogue, and useful knowledge. As one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers (established in 1870), the Academy convenes leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing the nation and the world.

The 2016 class includes winners of the Fields Medal, the Wolf Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the Grammy Award, and Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships. The Academy boasts nearly 5,000 fellows who undergo a rigorous nomination process, and the recognition is reserved for those who have demonstrated excellence both in their field and a commitment to serving society. Dr. Grandin is the only animal scientist to achieve this recognition, and though the list of noteworthy inductees she joins is long, it’s worth mentioning one individual who has previously received this honor: Albert Einstein. Just as Einstein is a household name, so has Temple Grandin become a household name. Dr. Grandin daily responds to the challenges facing the nation and the world as she works to educate the public about animal agriculture and the commitment of the industry to ensuring the best possible conditions for the animals in our care. I can’t think of a more important service to society than to have devoted her life’s work to improving the lives of animals raised for food, and to dedicated equal effort to advocating for the place of agriculture in a culture that is losing touch with its roots. It would be difficult to imagine what FSNS C&A would look like today if not for her.

It seems a fitting occasion to express gratitude for the time Dr. Grandin has served as an animal welfare consultant to FSNS C&A. For over 12 years, she has partnered with our leadership, and she continues to provide extensive training and calibration services for our audit team.

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