Updated Better Life criteria for processing companies
The Better Life Label Foundation (BLLF) has reviewed the criteria for processors. This review was necessary as many criteria have been in force since 2016. Criteria that apply to various company types and scopes, have also been harmonised. The criteria that have now been established will come into force on 1 September 2023.
The reviewed scheme contains fewer overlapping criteria for various company types. The scheme now has a modular structure. This structure makes it easier for processors to consult the relevant criteria for various species of animals. The criteria have been combined and can be displayed in a single overview.
Overlapping criteria have been harmonised for aspects including entry checks and the associated channelling of the Better Life products. These criteria are now identical for the six, specific categories of abattoir and for egg packing centres with and without IKB certification. Another example is the criterion ‘separation of Better Life products’ (S4.4). This applies to both abattoirs and processors, and will now be inspected as one process.
No separate list of supplementary decisions
Until now, a separate list of supplementary decisions was published for the BLLF criteria. These supplementary decisions explained the established criteria in more detail. In the new system, these explanations will be displayed alongside the criterion in question. This makes it easier to consult the latest version of the criteria.
When the criteria were updated, ISO standards were taken into account, as many participants in the Better Life label scheme have an existing quality assurance management system. The reviewed criteria are more consistent with key elements such as management accountability, continuous improvement and product integrity.
We have also brought the sanctions (a component of the certification regulations) in line with widely-used international standards. The sanctions are now defined as ‘minor’, ‘major’ and ‘critical’.
Enforcement and consultations
TThe published, reviewed criteria can have an immediate impact on the participants’ management systems. A transitional period of six months therefore applies to these amendments. Compliance with all the criteria will be inspected according to the modular structure from 1 September 2023. Consultations were held at various times while establishing these criteria;
- Consultation of certification bodies;
- Input from a select group of participants;
- Public consultation of participants.
Below, we explain the renewal of the criteria for several company types.
The basic criteria for abattoirs – irrespective of the species of animals – are now equivalent and uniform. In addition, a number of specific amendments have been implemented:
- The criteria now include a verification inspection . We expect that participants , when performing a hygiene inspection for example, take into account other aspects, such as the condition of the barns, lairage and reception areas, as part of a verification inspection. Other aspects that can be included in a verification inspection are:
- are there any obstacles that could cause problems?;
- do all the lamps function properly?
- are any prohibited driving devices used?
- During an internal audit the processes for monitoring animal welfare and separation into channels must be included. In this way, the abattoir can assess whether:
- the abattoir works in a way that is equivalent to the Better Life criteria;
- process improvements are possible.
- Various critical process parameters must be recorded. This data must be reported to the management of the abattoir at least quarterly.
This concerns, for example:
- data on unloading animals in the lairage/reception area;
- various data relating to the stunning of animals;
- the findings of the periodic verification inspections.
The purpose of recording and reporting this data is to ensure greater transparency into animal welfare at the abattoir at management level. All findings and results must be demonstrably addressed in a management review.
The amendments made to the criteria for Abattoir turkeys, based on the criteria for abattoir poultry, represent a significant improvement in the welfare of turkeys at abattoirs The most extensive changes are:
- A prohibition on the use of the water bath method, which the majority of abattoirs have already replaced by CAS stunning methods;
- Requirement of camera surveillance in the slaughterhouse.
Processors, logistics providers
The amendments to the criteria for processors and logistic service providers can be incorporated into the food safety management systems already used. This concerns the following aspects:
- A verification inspection has been included, so that, during a hygiene inspection for example, participants can take into account how products are separated. For example: are the raw materials clearly separated and processed?
- Interal audits should also include working with Better Life products, for example at the entry inspection (reception of Better Life products) and during production (separation of Better Life products). All findings and results must be demonstrably addressed in a management review, so participants are aware of their own responsibility in the process.
Retail with processor and food service
With so-called ‘Multi-site certification’, two main elements are retained in the amended criteria:
- The head office monitors the management system at the sites, as well as the use of communication items such as leaflets, flyers and labels;
- The site separates products according to the guidelines issued by the head office and uses the latest versions of recipes and work instructions. This is monitored by the head offices.