How we ensure quality
Quality assurance is organised by means of a system of multiple internal inspections and is the same for all Vion companies. Dr Anne Hiller, veterinarian and quality director of Vion Germany, tells more about this.
Quality assurance in the chain
Quality assurance starts with the livestock farmers. The independent IKB system in the Netherlands and QS Qualität und Sicherheit GmbH in Germany check the hygiene in the barns and animal welfare in accordance with a specially developed programme of requirements. Vion contributes towards the further development of these systems. More far-reaching programmes with special criteria such as the Beter Leven quality mark of the Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals and organic build on this.
Quality systems in Vion companies
“We work along established lines and determine our focus based on scientific insights and the requirements of our customers,” explains Dr Anne Hiller. The DIN ISO 9001 standard provides a uniform framework. “While this may sound bureaucratic, it does allow us to arrive at a basic methodology.”
Daily controls, using a multi-stage system
All processes are internally monitored day in day out, using a multi-stage system.
1st stage: daily controls in the HACCP system
- Daily checks with standardised hygiene checklists before the start of production and during the work.
- More far-reaching inspections related to slaughtering hygiene, and during the transport of products.
- Animal welfare inspections by trained employees and the head of animal welfare during unloading, in the waiting stable and during slaughter.
2nd stage: “shadow check” in accordance with the four eyes principle
Every internal inspection is based on a fixed cycle of checks in accordance with the four eyes principle. At regular intervals, a second employee looks over the shoulder of the person responsible for the checks. We call this “shadow checks”. These ensure that the checks are performed as planned.
3rd stage: internal audits
Specially trained auditors from another Vion location visit twice a year to perform internal audits. They check whether the inspections are performed as intended. If any abnormalities are found, corrective measures are taken. At Vion locations where animals are slaughtered, an additional audit is carried out every year, focused on animal welfare.
4th stage: microbiological tests during all production steps
Every year, over 100,000 blood samples from pig carcasses are taken at Vion, and over 150,000 microbiological tests are conducted.
The blood samples are taken immediately after slaughter. We use these blood samples to determine which companies run risks in relation to certain food safety criteria. Further on in the process, meat samples are taken, such as from the carcass, organs, a pork chop, etc. These meat samples are examined microbiologically. The microbiological tests enable us to monitor hygiene levels during the different steps of the production process. That way, we can continuously monitor whether the efforts during the first three stages of our quality systems are effective.