The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), a USDA agency, is amending its Animal Handling and Welfare (AHW) requirements for companies that supply meat from cattle, pigs, and sheep to the national school lunch program. As of July 2013, such companies are required to adopt the American Meat Institute’s Recommended Animal Handling Guidelines and Audit Guide, 2012 Edition in its entirety. An individual certified by an AHW training program must conduct humane handling training for a food supplier’s employees, and the company must establish an internal AHW steering committee, to be held accountable for animal handling and welfare initiatives. Major beef, pork, and lamb providers for school lunches, including Cargill Meat Solutions, Smithfield Packing Company, and Tyson Fresh Meats, previously were only expected to train employees according to portions of the American Meat Institute’s guidelines, and were not required to have an internal committee regulating their company’s animal handling and welfare activities. While the AMS program is voluntary, companies that want to provide their products to school lunch programs must follow these guidelines.
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