Food Safety and Quality | Pilgrim's Sustainability Report

Our Commitment

Food safety is the heart of our business. We continually review every aspect of our daily operations to make sure we provide safe, high-quality products for our customers and consumers.

Our Management Approach

In each country where we operate, local government officials provide oversight related to food safety and quality. Our Pilgrim’s team members recognize that producing safe, healthy, wholesome products is our responsibility and our 1,389 global FSQA team members help us accomplish this mission.

In the U.S., the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspect every Pilgrim’s production facility daily to guarantee our food products meet federal food safety standards.

In Europe, our production facilities are inspected and third-party audited according to the European Union Food Hygiene regulations and any additional customer quality requirements to verify compliance.

In Mexico, we follow the best practice guidelines for chicken production as defined by the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) and the National Service for Agro-Alimentary Public Health, Safety and Quality (SENASICA). Additionally, most of our facilities in Mexico have a federally inspected type (TIF) certification.

Monitoring and managing potential issues with pesticide residue in our poultry supply chain is a core part of our approach to food safety. We take a systematic approach to safety focusing on prevention, intervention and response.

In the U.S., Pilgrim’s tests the soil of all new chicken house construction for residual pesticides before construction begins. We approve all chicken litter suppliers to ensure there are no pesticide residues associated with the litter. Additionally, all flocks of chickens are screened for pesticides prior to slaughter. In the U.S. alone, over 21,000 samples are tested annually to ensure pesticide residue is not in our poultry supply chain. Pilgrim’s Mexico confirms there are no pesticide residues associated with the litter and conducts official surveillance for the detection of residues at the processing facilities. In our European facilities, for our secondary processors, we work through our supplier assurance requirements and product specifications. In the UK our poultry feed mills are members of the Food Fortress Scheme which is overseen by the Institute for Global Food Security which aims to address key international challenges  – environmental, food-safety, animal-health, nutritional – at each point of the food chain, from farm to fork. This ensures our food supply chain benefits from world leading insights in the field of feed assurance. Based on an extensive risk analysis of all potential contaminants (pesticides, heavy metals, dioxins, PCB’s and mycotoxins) the Fortress Food Scheme involves an industry wide strategic sampling and testing program covering native grains, imported raw materials and finished feeds.

The Pilgrim’s management structure for Food Safety and Quality Assurance (FSQA) is designed to ensure industry-leading performance and corporate oversight at the highest level. The team is led by the Pilgrim’s Global Head of Food Safety and Quality Assurance, who oversees the company’s global food safety efforts and reports directly to the Global CEO.

The Heads of FSQA (also referred to in some business units as the Heads of Technical Services and Quality Assurance) oversee the food safety and quality assurance programs as well as regulatory compliance for each business unit. They report directly to the President of their respective business units and work collaboratively with the Global Head of FSQA. Each Pilgrim’s facility has a FSQA Manager and FSQA team who, in our U.S. business unit, report to the FSQA Director for their line of the business; and in our Mexico, Moy Park and UK business units, report to the production facility manager. This streamlined reporting structure demonstrates the high priority we place on food safety and quality assurance, allowing Pilgrim’s to quickly and efficiently implement action-oriented decisions on a daily basis, if necessary.

One of the many strengths of our global approach to food safety and quality assurance is our ability to share and leverage best management practices across the company. This effort is led by the Global Head of FSQA, who works with each business unit to disseminate best practices around regulatory compliance, pathogen control, modernization and other innovations. This sharing of expertise better positions us to improve our food safety and quality performance. In partnership with JBS, Pilgrim’s hosts an annual Global Food Safety and Quality Conference with FSQA professionals from around the global company. During the event, we aim to identify common challenges, industry trends and opportunities to support the company’s effort to serve as the worldwide leader in high-quality, innovative protein and value-added food products.

In the U.S., the Food Safety and Quality Advisory Committee is responsible for providing oversight and guidance to our Food Safety Program. The committee is comprised of senior JBS USA and Pilgrim’s team members, as well as academicians who specialize in the areas of animal science, meat science, epidemiology and food microbiology. The committee includes the heads of FSQA in each JBS USA business unit and for Pilgrim’s and six industry experts, including Drs. Gary Smith and Keith Belk from Colorado State University; Drs. H. Russell Cross, Kerri Harris and Jeff Savell from Texas A&M University; Dr. Guy Loneragan from Texas Tech University; Dr. Mike Apley from Kansas State University; Dr. Chuck Hofacre from University of Georgia; and Dr. Lynn McMullen from the University of Alberta, Canada.

Food Safety in Our Facilities

The robust food safety and quality program that each Pilgrim’s production facility operates under consists of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs), Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) procedures and validated technology interventions that are designed to eliminate or reduce biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production.

Each of these processes are monitored by team members trained in food safety and quality assurance, as well as government officials, in each production facility. Additionally, inspection and process verification by government officials occurs before the mark of inspection can be placed on products entering into commerce.

Furthermore, our production facilities implement these additional programs:

  • A written Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) program
  • A recall/market withdrawal procedure, which provides for trace-back and trace-forward capabilities to ensure the proper products and dates can be identified, if necessary
  • A documented Pest Control Program
  • A documented Food Security Program
  • Annual certification to Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) standards; to date this is done for 100% of our facilities in the U.S. and Europe and 71% of our Mexico facilities
  • Insured and bonded carriers are required to transport meat and poultry products—where all loads are sealed at the originating establishment and maintained under seal by the carrier in the event of a multi-stop load

Training and Audits

All new team members receive training on quality assurance (QA) and food safety management systems when they are hired and additional job-specific training as necessary. In addition, QA team members are provided with specific HACCP, as well as additional food safety and quality assurance training every year.

Each year, we conduct numerous food safety and quality system audits using accredited, independent auditing firms. 100% of our production facilities in the U.S. and Europe and 71% of our Mexico operations have been audited and certified by audit schemes recognized by the GFSI, one of the most stringent food safety-related audits available in the food industry. Internal audits and inspections are also conducted by our FSQA team members.

Additionally, in North America, all of our suppliers who provide products or services that have direct contact with food must pass the ISNetworld and GFSI audits and provide a letter of guarantee.

In the Event of a Recall

Even though we have comprehensive systems in place to provide our consumers with safe, high-quality foods, instances can and have occurred where a product recall is necessary to protect public health. When a recall is warranted, Pilgrim’s voluntarily initiates the recall, collaborating with federal regulatory partners to make sure that all affected product is promptly tracked and removed from distribution channels. To inform our customers and consumers of a recall, we issue a notice that follows government guidelines for communication. In the U.S., recall information is also posted on the USDA FSIS or U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) websites.

Recalls are rare, and we work diligently to understand how they were caused, and how to prevent future incidents. We perform comprehensive root-cause analyses and share our learnings across Pilgrim’s. As an independent third-party auditor, the GFSI verifies the effectiveness of our corrective actions.

2020 Progress

Pilgrim’s objective is to have a world-class food safety quality systems platform that provides confidence to our customers and consumers and ensures the integrity of all of our products.

Country Percent of Facilities Certified by Independent Third Party Audits According to GFSI Standards
U.S. 100%
Mexico 71%
Europe 100%