Food Safety

Safe food begins on the farm.

Veal farmers are committed to ensuring the food they produce is safe. Farmers strive to provide excellent animal care, maintain clean barns and adopt sound practices so consumers can be confident the food they purchase for their families is safe.

In 1990, the Veal Quality Assurance Program (VQA) was developed to certify that veal farmers provide excellent animal care and use the best handling practices. Since the creation of VQA, veal farmers have increased the health and well-being of their animals while continuing to produce the high-quality, safe meat expected by customers.

Veal farmers were leaders in establishing this type of quality assurance program and continue in this forward-thinking vision with the completion of their goal to move to group housing.

Dr. Marissa Hake is a veterinarian responsible for veal calves raised in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Watch this video to learn more about what she does to ensure healthy calves.

USDA Inspection

Once calves leave the farm, they are inspected by federal and state agencies throughout each step of the production process to ensure food safety. All state and federal meat inspection is overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), which regulates food safety standards for raw meat. FSIS inspectors work within meat processing and packing plants to ensure compliance. Only raw meat that meets FSIS standards for safety, wholesomeness and labeling is given a USDA seal.

Veal calves are inspected twice before processing by the USDA. Federally-inspected meat plants are subject to the Humane Slaughter Act, which is enforced by USDA inspectors who are in meat packing plants during every minute of operation. If tests produce any questionable results, then the meat never reaches the food supply.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) requires meat packing plants to adopt the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system. HACCP is designed to protect food safety by addressing problems through proactive practices that identify and limit potential food safety impacts. The veal farmer has a responsibility under the packer’s HACCP plans to supply the packer with animals that are free from violative tissue levels of antimicrobials and other known concerns, as well as free from physical hazards or contaminants such as bruises, injection site blemishes, or microbial organisms.

Food Drug Administration Oversight

All animal health care products (AHCP) are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only after the manufacturer demonstrates that when given according to label directions, the AHCP was effective in accomplishing the purpose for which the product was approved without causing violative residues.

Animal medicines are required to meet stringent FDA standards, including significant human and food safety benchmarks, prior to approval. Compared to other livestock species, a limited number of AHCP are approved for use in veal calves.  Hormone implants are strictly prohibited for use in veal calves.