The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 34, Food products, is currently assessing the need to create a working group (WG) that will promote the establishment of international animal welfare standards for food-producing animals. If approved, the new WG – as part of a collaboration with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), an intergovernmental organization tasked with improving animal health and welfare worldwide – will begin to develop new work item proposals for a set of relevant Technical Specifications (TS) based on OIE animal welfare standards set down in its Terrestrial and Aquatic Animal Health Codes.
The TSs will apply only to animals whose products are intended for human consumption, including cattle, egg-laying hens, pigs, farmed fish, goats, and other livestock. The WG seeks to encourage farmers and food-producers worldwide to follow OIE animal welfare standards in the treatment of their farm animals and to establish global ISO specifications for such treatment, eliminating the need for redundant private certification systems, which carry associated expenses for farmers, producers, and consumers. The TS will be based on widely accepted scientific findings regarding animal welfare outcomes drawn from OIE animal welfare guidelines. The WC will examine the possibility of the creation of additions TSs after the completion of the initial document.
In July 2011, ISO and OIE signed a cooperation agreement on international standards intended to bolster collaboration between the two groups on standards associated with the trade of animals and animal products. The creation of the new WG was first discussed at TC 34’s April 2012 meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, after TC 34 and OIE established that animal welfare was an area of mutual interest. If created, the new WG is expected to hold its first meeting on Tuesday, October 23, 2012, in Paris. The WG will draft a New Work Item Proposal (NWIP) for TSs focusing on animal welfare and will issue a call for expert participation once active development of the TSs begins.
The American Oil Chemists' Society (AOCS), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-accredited administrator of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO TC 34, will also oversee U.S. participation in the new WG on animal welfare. AOCS is currently seeking interested parties to participate in this WG should it be formed. For further information, please contact ISO@aocs.org. As the official U.S. member body to ISO, ANSI encourages stakeholders in associated groups and industries, as well individuals with relevant expert knowledge, to become involved in ISO TC 34 activities.
For more information about all U.S. ISO activities or to express interest in establishing or participating in another U.S. TAG, contact Karen Hughes, ANSI program manager, ISO P membership (212.642.4992; firstname.lastname@example.org). A list of all current ANSI-accredited U.S. TAGs to ISO is available here.