DENVER -- American Humane Certified hosted its annual Scientific Advisory Committee meeting at its national headquarters in Denver last week. In addition to the members of American Humane Certified's scientific advisory committee, science fellows, producers, technology suppliers and auditors also attended. Members of the scientific advisory committee regularly consult with program management to improve the program's standards and methodologies.

The specialists reviewed the standards of care for all species to ensure that each measurement of animal welfare is grounded in good science and has addressed any new technologies and improved practices, and that each audit point is measurable to ensure audit consistency and objectivity.

"In order for improved animal welfare to be more broadly adopted by agriculture, retailers and consumers, it must be science-based," said committee member John McGlone, Ph.D. of Texas Tech University. "To make the major commitments required to greatly increase the number of animals raised and handled humanely, the decisions will have to be founded in good science."

In addition to reviewing the standards, the group was educated on the new technology for American Humane Certified's 24/7 video monitoring by HS3 Technology, the exclusive video provider to the program.

"Real time video monitoring can play an important role in observing critical control points in animal welfare auditing," said Temple Grandin, Ph.D., committee member and acclaimed animal scientist. "Video gives us the tools to make immediate corrections if needed to ensure consistent humane handling of animals."

American Humane Certified is launching an online humane training program that will be available in June to Certified producers, operations managers and animal handlers. McGlone is developing the program. McGlone presented the curriculum to the Scientific Advisory Group for review and comment.

Inma Estevez, Ph.D., who is leading the International Aviary Housing Systems Study, commissioned this year by American Humane Certified, reported to the group. Dr. Estevez presented details about the various types of layer housing production facilities in Europe and the U.S. that will be studied over a two-year period. Video monitoring will be installed in Spain and other places to provide additional data on the welfare and behavior of hens in various housing systems.

"We believe that this layer study will provide very useful information to egg producers as they plan the retrofitting of existing housing or new construction of cage-free enrichment systems," said Tim Amlaw, director of American Humane Certified. "The study is intended to provide a range of solutions that will ensure animal welfare and be feasible for the industry to accomplish within the next few years."

The poultry specialists in the group have recommended that in order to be American Humane Certified, the inclusion of video monitoring in broiler processing plants will be mandatory.

"It is critical that we observe and audit the full life of broilers, including the end-of-life process," said Yvonne Vizzier Thaxton, Ph.D., a professor of Poultry Science at Mississippi State University. "It is the continuum of humane care throughout the entire life of the animal that gives assurance of good welfare practices."

CDC, the online software provider to American Humane Certified, demonstrated the fully automated online registration for new producers and the online audit tools which give producers the capability to frequently report on core audit areas in their operations. Producers can access their own audit records whenever they wish. American Humane Certified can monitor corrective action on any variances and identify concerns.

The Scientific Advisory Group will continue to examine revisions to standards and make additional recommendations on animal welfare policy.

American Humane Certified is a program of the American Humane Association, which was established in 1877 to prevent cruelty, abuse and neglect of children and animals. American Humane Certified, established in 2000, was the United States' first animal-welfare program dedicated to the humane treatment of farm animals. It is the fastest growing independent animal-welfare label program in the U.S.

SOURCE: American Humane Association via Business Wire.