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Outstanding collaboration for animal welfare at Grüne Woche

The International Grüne Woche opens today in Berlin. For the next week, Berlin will be the meeting point for the international agriculture and agri-food sector. In the Dutch pavilion, Dierenbescherming, Stichting Beter Leven keurmerk, Deloitte, DNA TraceBack® from MSD Animal Health and Vion are jointly manning one stand. With this collaboration, the parties are demonstrating their joint commitment to sustainable livestock farming, animal welfare, food safety and traceability of meat products. Representatives of these organisations will present their joint innovations for more animal welfare and a price for everyone in the chain where additional costs for the farmer are reimbursed.

Transparency about our food
In our society where a better life for animals, health and the environment are key issues, Vion goes for optimal transparency about the origin of its meat and demonstrable commitment to greater animal welfare. The goal? Assurance for consumers where the meat comes from and the knowledge that a better life for animals has played an important role throughout the chain. Retailers can show how they are committed to quality, sustainability and welfare in the meat they sell. Farmers in the Vion supply chain demonstrate their commitment to animal welfare and transparency about the origin of meat.

According to Bert Urlings, Director of Quality at Vion, this joint fair participation is remarkable. “The fact that these parties seek each other out and together realise innovative systems for improving animal welfare is, as far as we are concerned, the new standard for how we want to work. Working together with partners throughout the chain with an eye for animal welfare, the production of healthy and safe food and transparency about its origin.”

DNA Traceability: products traceable throughout the supply chain
For its latest innovation DNA Traceability, Vion is collaborating with MSD Animal Health, in its quest for transparency in the origin of meat and animal welfare. This uses their proprietary DNA TRACEBACK® technology. DNA TRACEBACK® is recognised as the most advanced traceability solution on the market, providing certainty about the origin of meat products. Using DNA, nature’s “barcode”, the platform recognises that products in all links of the chain, such as pork chops, sausages and cooked ham, come from the Vion Beter Leven chain. DNA profiles of the mother animals in the specific supply chain are collected and stored, and samples are taken from products, allowing a product to be accurately traced back to the animal on the farm. Through this platform, Vion demonstrates the integrity of its products, from farm to fork and provides consumers with assurance that the origin of the animal is correct.

Monitoring animal welfare with Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Also at the Grüne Woche, we will show the AI monitoring tool with smart camera technology developed by the Animal Protection Society, Deloitte, Eyes on Animals and Vion. The video software developed uses artificial intelligence to monitor how animals are handled in the slaughterhouse. The system detects movements of people, animals and objects and their interaction. Video clips that (potentially) deviate from Vion’s protocol regarding animal handling are automatically selected by the system’s algorithm. These video clips are made available for review via a dashboard. This system enables Vion’s animal welfare officers to take quick action when necessary. Vion has installed this smart camera system in its slaughterhouses in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany from 2021.

Reliable assurance from farm to fork
All these new developments are closely monitored by the Beter Leven Foundation and used in securing the quality mark in the chain. The Beter Leven hallmark is the largest and best-known sustainable hallmark in the Netherlands. Cooperation with the various parties in the chain will also be important for the hallmark in the future.

Photo: representatives of the Dierenbescherming, Stichting Beter Leven keurmerk, Deloitte, DNA TraceBack® from MSD Animal Health and Vion and Dutch Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Piet Adema.