Tyson Foods Inc. announced on March 6, the implementation of the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association’s (USPOULTRY) third-party certification for the proper handling and transportation of live birds used in its chicken operations. The company claims it is the industry’s first large poultry producer to adopt the Poultry Handling and Transportation (PHT) certification.

The PHT program is managed by USPOULTRY and is the latest addition to Tyson’s ongoing training to ensure proper animal handling by workers responsible for handling and transporting birds as part of their jobs. To date, more than 1,000 of the company’s workers have been PHT trained and certified over the past year. The focus of the program, which was developed by researchers at Penn State Univ., the US Dept. of Agriculture and animal welfare experts in the industry, is on proper handling of chickens as it relates to biosecurity, recognizing diseased animals and planning for emergencies.

Karen Christensen, senior director of animal welfare for Tyson Foods, said the addition of the program ensures the welfare of not only the animals, but also workers.

“By working with USPOULTRY to achieve certification across our organization, we are doubling down on our commitment to continuous improvement in animal welfare,” she said. “We’re proud of this certification and continue to evolve best practices in every aspect of animal welfare.”

This past year, Tyson implemented the use of remote video auditing (RVA) technology as a means of third-party auditing of its chicken-catching crews and at 33 of its plants, which is part of its Farmcheck program. The company also maintains an Animal Welfare Advisory panel of external experts and is testing Controlled Atmosphere Stunning (CAS) at two of its poultry plants.

“Tyson Foods’ commitment to this certification process demonstrates a pivotal moment in the industry, and we’re excited about the progress we’ve made together,” said Rafael Rivera, manager of USPOULTRY’S food safety and production programs. “Every training gives us a new opportunity to improve our practices and we look forward to continuing to drive progress in animal well-being.”