AUSTIN, Minn. -- Hormel Foods Corporation was one of the first companies to support the original Pork Quality Assurance(R) (PQA(R)) program by requiring producer participation. The company continues that tradition by supporting the "We Care" responsible pork initiative developed by the National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council.

As a demonstration of that commitment, the company announced today that all hogs it purchases by Dec. 31, 2009, will be raised by pork producers and their employees who are certified in the PQA Plus(R) program. In addition, the company now requires all producers, employees of producers and individuals who transport hogs to the company to have Transport Quality Assurance(R) (TQA(R)) certification. Both programs were developed by the National Pork Board.

"These programs outline the highest production practices for the pork industry and are designed to focus on animal well-being and food safety," said Brian Stevens, director of pork procurement, Hormel Foods. "Hormel Foods endorses these programs as part of our ongoing commitment to implement the highest-quality standards."

National Pork Board's PQA Plus(R) program is a three-part process, which includes attending an educational and training session as well as an on-farm site evaluation is necessary to achieve PQA Plus(R) site status. The program also includes a third component of random, statistically valid, third-party evaluation of available sites.

Each site that is delivering hogs to Hormel Foods must achieve site status to provide hogs to the company. This process includes an on-farm assessment of care and well-being principles. These principles and food safety practices are also the focus during the educational and training session taught by a PQA Plus(R) advisor (veterinarian, Extension personnel, adult agricultural educator).

"We are honored to fully support these pork industry initiatives," Stevens said. "Pork producers care about retaining the public trust and they demonstrate this by doing things right through their ethical principles."

Hormel Foods Corporation, based in Austin, Minn., is a multinational manufacturer and marketer of consumer-branded food and meat products, many of which are among the best known and trusted in the food industry. The company leverages its extensive expertise, innovation and high competencies in pork and turkey processing and marketing to bring quality, value-added brands to the global marketplace.

SOURCE: Hormel Foods Corporation via Business Wire.