The Dutch Meat Industry Association (COV), who is in charge of this campaign, represents the Dutch pork industry.
The Dutch pork industry produces annually about 15 mln. slaughter pigs, equal to 1.5 mln. tonnes of pork. The Dutch pork industry strongly focuses on exports of safe and high quality pork products.
The Dutch pork sector stands out as a result of its innovative products, knowledge of the market, good quality assurance system and innovative, trend-setting products for tracking and tracing. These allow businesses to serve the specific needs of numerous markets both within and outside the EU.
Based on the European approach Dutch meat exporters provide strong guarantees concerning:
- Food Safety
- Residue Free
- Controlled production
- From Farm to Table
- Animal Welfare
Dutch businesses have distinguished themselves internationally by providing guarantees that their pork meets all the relevant food safety requirements. This is supported by checks performed by inspectors from Dutch government agencies and various quality control organisations.
Quality control in pork production is based on hygiene, research and expertise. Quality control systems based on Dutch and European law make production chains transparent and verifiable. This puts the Netherlands amongst the world leaders.
The Netherlands has strict rules for keeping pigs and for pork production. Pig farmers clean and disinfect their premises and ensure good feed storage. To help prevent animal diseases, businesses are sealed off — visitors must first shower and change into special clothing.
Meat companies work according to equally strict hygiene rules. Employees wear special clothing, may not wear jewellery and must wash their hands regularly. Companies check this themselves, but so do the Dutch authorities (NVWA).
The sector has its own quality control systems. For years now, Integrated Chain Management (IKB) has operated internationally as a good example of careful and controlled production for both the responsible raising of pigs and for their processing into safe pork.
Domestic and foreign customers often impose (extra) requirements on the production process and require guarantees. Supermarkets have a system for some or all of their products, called Global Gap. This offers guarantees for the whole production chain. The IKB system, which covers practically all Dutch pigs, conforms to this.
Tracking & Tracing
Dutch pork producers offer guarantees concerning the production of the product, partly on the basis of tracking and tracing information. This makes it possible to track and look-up a product. In this way, information can always be collected about the location, quality or the quantity of a certain product (the meat or the animal).
Tracking goes upstream from the purchase, the further processing and the sale of the product: the tracking of the product to the supermarket and consumer. From the start (animal feed) to the end (supermarket). This means that Dutch pork companies have the relevant information about the destination of the product at their disposal.
Tracing involves tracking down a product to find where it comes from and what it is used for. In other words, the downstream tracing of a product back to its producer or producers. In this way, Dutch pork companies can trace the entire production back to its source.
(UBN) From the time they are born, Dutch pigs bear an earmark with the number of the company. With this Unique Business Number (Uniek Bedrijfs Nummer) or UBN, pork processers can find out which company a pig (or herd) comes from. This number remains linked to the group up to and in the abattoir and is entered into the databases of the abattoir or meat processing company.
(VKI) When pigs are offered for slaughter, the farmer is required to supply specific food chain information (VKI) to the abattoir, which can then assess the animals individually on a veterinary basis before they are processed. Abattoirs must report discrepancies and, often, feedback to the pig farmer.
(IKB) The Dutch pork food chain set up the IKB system to assure the quality of production throughout the entire supply chain. This information transfer shows which animal the meat comes from, the medicines registration is shown and information is available about the source and composition of the animal feed.
(GFL) The European General Food Law requires that the origin and destinations of foodstuffs, animal feeds, food producing animals and other substances for foodstuffs are traceable and that the relation between raw materials and end products is known. Companies should have all information available to them within four hours regarding the suppliers and buyers (one link forward and one link back) in order to be able to trace the trade in products.
(HACCP) Produces of pork are responsible for product safety. Dutch law requires that meat-processing companies have a system that ensures product safety. This system should be based on the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point method (HACCP).
(Supervision of monitoring). The Dutch government has made possible ‘toezicht op de controle’ (supervision of monitoring) so that checks can be carried out by private organisations provided that the government ensures that this functions well.
The Netherlands often goes beyond European legislation and regulation and leads the way — for example, by tracking and tracing using automatic data exchange.
Dutch companies aim to improve both food safety and the assurance of food safety. By using quality systems such as IKB, Dutch businesses are already often doing more than the government requires. Consequently, Dutch pork companies can offer extra guarantees so that buyers can have and maintain trust in Dutch pork.
The Dutch pork industry is always seeking to supply safe meat. That can only happen if all parties in the chain collaborate effectively with each other and with the buyers. The sector has various systems to bring this about. In addition, international standards apply, as do the laws and regulations of the national government and international bodies (EU, WHO).
By way of its systems and checks, the pork sector is doing everything in order to be able to offer maximum guarantees for safe and good quality pork. As an extra precaution, they have samples taken of pork products for laboratory analysis.
Consumers should naturally be able to rely on the safety of foodstuffs, so it is important (via tracking and tracing, link) to be able to know where a product comes from today and which company made it.
Various systems are in place to ensure the quality of Dutch pork:
GHP stands for Good Hygiene Practices. A GHP code contains guidelines for keeping the hygiene in companies in processes at the highest level. A GHP code has many requirements concerning the work activities, personal hygiene and training of employees, for water quality, for the cleaning and disinfection of machines, equipment and production areas, for vermin control and for packaging, transport and storage.
Global Good Agricultural Practice (GlobalGAP) makes demands on the producers regarding food safety, sustainability and quality. GlobalGAP was set up in 1997 by 26 European supermarket organisations to coordinate their demands on suppliers of fresh products. GlobalGAP aims to promote food safety while also meeting consumer demands such as sustainable agriculture.
Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) is a quality system for the foodstuffs industry. A GMP company sets out how and under which circumstances products are made. Registration is also made of which raw materials are used, the structure of the production process and how quality control checks are performed. This is how suppliers in the Dutch pig sector work with GMP Feed. IKB-certified pig farmers are required to use only GMP-certified feed.
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a quality control system by which companies have entered all the critical points in their production process. Via HACCP, all results of checks, analyses and measurements are recorded. When norms are violated, it is quickly clear which measures must or can be taken.
A hygiene code is a code for Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and monitoring system for the hygiene in foodstuffs companies. Hygiene codes are based on HACCP and have been compulsory for foodstuffs companies in the EU since 2007. The Dutch pork sector uses custom codes. For example, a hygiene code for pigs has been included in the IKB and the authorities (NVWA) check up on companies for compliance with this.
IKB is Integrated Chain Management (Integrale Keten Beheersing). This is a quality management programme for all links in the pork production chain. Professional collaboration between the links in the chain helps ensure a reliable end product. IKB guarantees product safety, traceability and openness to monitoring. The requirements also cover animal welfare and environmental issues.
IN the mid-1980s, the Dutch pig sector was the first to begin the development of the chain quality system. The IKB system began operation in September 1992 and practically all Dutch pigs are now covered by the IKB regime.
The Netherlands has two IKB systems – IKB Pig and IKB Dutch Pigs. The regulations are administered by various organisations. The requirements and demands are comparable.
VKI is Food Chain Information (Voedselketeninformatie). Its introduction into the Dutch pork sector began in 2006. With this - compulsory - system, information is entered concerning animal diseases and pathogens. Using the VKI, the pig farmer sends information to the abattoir before the animals are slaughtered. The abattoir then uses this information in the first inspection of the animals.
Dutch pig farmers devote considerable attention to the welfare of pigs. At the moment, the Netherlands is among the absolute leaders in the world. Welfare measures included in the IKB quality regulations cover virtually all pigs in the Netherlands.
One of the issues for welfare is the space available to each animal. In the Netherlands, there are rules for the space given to piglets, finishing pigs and sows. There are also rules governing illumination of the stables and the presence of enrichment material (toys).
The Netherlands is at the forefront in the field of animal welfare regulations. Pigs in the Netherlands have some 30 to 40% more living space. The space available is also better organised. The pigs often stay together in their own familiar group, which is important for a herd animal like the pig.
Finally, the law also forbids physical interventions except for those needed for the health or welfare of the animal, such as earmarking or castration.
The careful responsible transport of pigs is essential for ensuring animal welfare. In addition, good, stress-free transport ultimately affects the quality of the pork.
The transport of pigs is subject to various demands. These regulations conform to European directives and are based on the ISO-9002 standard. This is in addition to the demands set out in the IKB quality assurance system.
The transport rules are set out in a handbook and contain criteria governing registration, documentation and hygiene. They require that no calming agents are used on the animals for transport and that the drivers are expertly trained.
The transport of pigs must meet the requirements for quality. The bed of the vehicle must be rough and covered with appropriate litter. Animal trucks must have adjustable ventilation openings for an optimal temperature of 16°C. Journey times are limited as far as possible. When the pigs are delivered, the vehicles are cleaned and disinfected.
Pork destined for supermarkets or other buyers is transported in specially designed refrigerated vehicles. Sometimes the meat is transported already packaged for the consumer; in other cases, larger parts are vacuum packed or even deep-frozen so they can be used packaging companies or of meat product producers.
Meat must remain cooled — from the moment of processing all the way to the refrigerator or freezer of the consumer. The industry and the government are both involved in checking that the meat never gets above 7 degrees Celsius.