Safety Guard is the VanDrie Group’s integrated quality system which assures food safety and animal welfare throughout the production chain. The responsible use of antibiotics and environmental management are also regulated through Safety Guard. The basis of Safety Guard is ISO 22000, the standard implemented throughout the VanDrie Group. Safety Guard has also been configured to meet the demands of customers worldwide. IFS and BRC are housed within Safety Guard. At the core of Safety Guard is the traceability system. The basis in every phase of the production process is the animal’s individual earmark, the ID code, which remains associated with the animal and the meat. Even when the meat is reduced further in the deboning plant, the ID code remains associated with each cut of meat, making traceability down to the individual animal still possible. This is another example of the difference between the VanDrie Group and other veal producers.
The use of Safety Guard means that the VanDrie Group also meets the requirements for integral chain management (Dutch acronym: IKB). This independently-guaranteed chain quality system maintains standards, including those for medication and registration of medications given. By participating in IKB, a veal farmer also satisfies the official EU hygiene regulations. This is checked by the Veal Calf Quality Guarantee Foundation (SKV), which verifies that IKB requirements have been met and carries out intensive checks to ensure that forbidden growth promoters have not been used.
Animal Welfare Code
In the interests of calf welfare, Safety Guard includes the Animal Welfare Code, which is based on respecting the five freedoms of the animal. Safety Guard checks the application of the Animal Welfare Code at each stage of the chain. Trained Animal Welfare Officers within the VanDrie Group safeguard animal welfare.
Improvement through research
Time and again, it has been the VanDrie Group that has stimulated new developments and has been the first to implement them. For example, the Group was the first, in the 1980s, to move to group housing, and the first to provide roughage in addition to the milk given to calves. In partnership with the Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals, and Wageningen University and the VanDrie Group is continually on a quest for further improvements to animal welfare.
Research has yielded new notions for animal welfare. Peter’s Farm is an invigorating new farming concept where the calves are allowed to move around, lie down and drink more freely. For the longer transportation of calves, a Comfort Class has been developed. Comfort Class wagons are air-conditioned and attuned to younger animals.
Better life hallmark (Beter Leven)
The VanDrie Group boasts veal with the Better Life (Beter Leven) hallmark, issued by the Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals. Veal that has received the Better Life hallmark meets the higher demands regarding animal welfare. For instance, the Society requires that roughage provision be far above European standards so that higher Hb (haemoglobin) values can be attained. All calves held by the VanDrie Group meet these additional Better Life requirements. Better Life (Beter Leven) has further requirements, such as limits on the distances that calves can be transported. The Society reserves the right to make unannounced inspections.