The management of the scheme was taken over by South African Pork Producers Organisation’s (SAPPO) in 2011, when it was opened to other provinces because of the realisation that a national scheme was needed. The system was then renamed Pork 360.
The initial aim of the scheme was to ensure a consistent supply of high quality pork, by certifying that participating farms complied with certain minimum production standards in terms of food safety and quality.
Since then, role-players throughout the value chain have been consulted – from farmers to abattoirs, processors, retailers and pig veterinarians – to develop standards that not only address food safety and quality, but also traceability, biosecurity as well as animal welfare and environmental concerns. As such, the programme has been expanded from field to fork, to also include abattoirs and processors.
Participation is voluntary, with members being audited annually by independent auditors to ensure they comply with the minimum prescribed standards. Members, who comply, are able to use the Pork 360, Farm Assured, quality assurance mark on their pork products.
SAPPO’s Portfolio Committee for Quality Assurance dictates policy in conjunction with SAPPO’s board and also promotes the system.
Pork 360 Producers
Amongst others, a person needs to be identified to take charge of the implementation and maintenance of the Quality Assurance and Traceability program and also inform the South African Pork Producers Organisation (SAPPO) of any changes in farm details.
Standard operating procedures need to be developed that comply with the Pork 360 regulations, with the master file being contained in the piggery office. A list of registers used on the farm, laboratory results, health plans, prescriptions and other documents, including delivery notes and invoices for medicines should all be filed and available for inspection.
This person is also responsible for ensuring that employees have the necessary training to implement the standard operating procedures, for example, in terms of animal handling, cleaning and sanitation, euthanasia, feed monitoring, medicine, needle and syringe control and recording, personal hygiene, pest control and routine maintenance and filling of checklists.
Strict access control is required to ensure good biosecurity measures, which helps to reduce disease risks. As such all pig production units or areas need to be totally fenced off and access gates should be locked at all times. The production areas should be clearly marked as a biosecurity area and no domestic animals and unauthorised vehicles or people should be allowed on the premises.
Logs should be kept of all vehicles, people and pigs entering and leaving the farm, and strict biosecurity and sanitation measures should be used to reduce the threat of these vehicles and people. Strict measures should also be in place to ensure workers have access to a safe environment and do not pose any disease risks.
In terms of pest and disease management, a comprehensive plan should be in place with good records kept of any taken interventions. Only products that are registered for use are allowed and these should be used correctly and according to the instructions.
Pigs should have access to an adequate supply of clean water and may, under no circumstances, receive kitchen, ship, hospital, canteen, restaurant or any other type of swill or raw material that contains animal offal or dead animal material. Feed should comply with certain standards, with a sample of every ration taken, recorded and stored for three months for traceability purposes.
Pork 360 Abattoir
Standard Operating Procedures need to be developed that comply with the Pork 360 regulations, with the master file being contained at the quality assurance office, as well as a list of registers used at the abattoir, residue testing and other documents, including animal movement certificates and health declarations.
Contingency plans need to be described in the standard operating procedures to ensure correct actions are taken during fire outbreaks, floods, load shedding and staff related issues, such as strikes, illness or absenteeism.
The person in charge of the Quality Assurance and Traceability Program is also responsible for ensuring that employees have the necessary training to implement the standard operating procedures, for example, in terms of animal handling, proper stunning methods, cleaning and sanitation, personal hygiene pest control and routine maintenance and filling of checklists.
All pigs for certification should originate from a valid Pork360 certified producer, with the appropriate records and interventions being taken to ensure traceability throughout the supply chain. The use, application and presence of specified substances and residues need to be monitored and screened. Farms that do not comply with the standards need to be tested weekly at their own cost until the pork tests residue free.
Carcasses need to be labelled correctly and include certain minimum information, relating to the classification, age, weight and so forth of the animal.
Pork 360 Processing
The aim of this section is not to discuss each of the requirements, but to give mere insights into some of these strict measures.
Amongst others, management needs to accept responsibility for the hygiene and safety management systems employed at a plant and provide resources to enable and maintain these systems. Staff need to be informed and trained to comply and correctly implement the systems. Any problems and hazards should be reported as soon as they are identified.
The plant needs to be government-approved and comply with all legal regulations applicable to the processing of meat. A detailed map should be available of all the premises in the plant, with the design and construction of the plant conforming with certain minimum specifications to reduce hazards and ensure food safety.
The processes used during the processing of the meat should also be clearly defined and follow the minimum standards.
For traceability purposes, good records should be kept of all activities, and meat quality needs to be monitored continuously to ensure product safety. As part of this, meat product safety managers need to be appointed, who should inspect all sections and processes at the plant at regular intervals. They should also verify and record outcomes and corrective actions to ensure prescribed meat product safety outcomes are met.
Sound cleaning, sanitisation, water safety and pest control measures should be implemented throughout the plant. The standards also relate to customer complaints, returns policies, the reworking of processed meat and so forth.
Protocols should also be in place to control access to the plant, ensure a safe work environment and reduce worker-related hazards and health threats.