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section III
ADVANCES IN LIVESTOCK,
FOOD QUALITY, AND SAFETY
The Company operates under strict sustainability requirements in the origin of its cattle, the primary raw material, ensuring that the application of best practices is present from end-to-end within its production chain. Member of the Brazilian Roundtable on Sustainable Livestock (GTPS), Minerva adopts socio-environmental criteria for monitoring its suppliers and consequently combating deforestation, with all cattle purchases submitted for evaluation by the sustainability sector. In 100% of purchases, the following information is verified:
  • Environmental compliance: A cross-reference with the list of areas embargoed by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA).
  • Labor Compliance: A review of the Cadastro de Empregadores (Register of Employers) who have submitted their employees to conditions comparable to slavery, issued by the Secretaria de Trabalho do Ministério da Economia (Labor Secretary of the Ministry of Economics).
  • Land Title Regularization: Consultation of the Cadastro Ambiental Rural (CAR) (Rural Environmental Registry) and other documents of land tenure.
Geospatial monitoring via satellite imaging is performed on the properties of suppliers located throughout the Amazon biome to determine the occurrence of deforestation, encroachment of indigenous lands, and conservation areas. Suppliers who do not agree with any of the requirements adopted by the Company are placed on a blocked list, becoming ineligible for trading until the situation is regularized. The monitoring system contains more than 2.4 thousand suppliers of cattle that have been blocked for non-compliance with the established criteria. The Company works to support its suppliers in order to regularize the areas of non-compliance.

Every year the process is certified by audits. In 2019, 100% compliance was assured in the assessment performed by independent auditors of BDO RCS Auditores Independentes.

In Paraguay, the Company is pioneering the geospatial monitoring of 100% of its major suppliers, restricting trade with those on whose properties illegal deforestation, intrusion into indigenous lands and environmental protection areas are detected. By 2018, when monitoring began, 289 properties had been registered and analyzed, corresponding to an area of more than 360,000 hectares. In 2019, a further 270 properties were registered and analyzed in an area of more than 339,000 hectares, for a combined total of more than 699,000 hectares monitored. During the assurance audit of the process carried out in Paraguay, 100% compliance with the criteria adopted by the Company was certified. 102-9 | 304-2

Technology and programs
align initiatives with
cattle ranchers
Minerva Foods has a series of programs and technological resources that allow it to maintain direct communication channels with its suppliers, bringing together measures that guarantee the integrity of its operations and relationship with its partners.
Eficiência da Carcaça (PEC) – The program, considered one of the highlights of 2019, was developed in partnership with Phibro Animal Health. Its purpose is to promote recognition and awareness of best practices for efficient cattle breeding, striving to integrate the production chain, by bringing together producers, the industry, and the commodities sector. Furthermore, the idea is to provide greater opportunities for producers by standardizing and producing carcasses with a higher value, noticeable by consumers. The initiative encompasses cattle of all breeds and evaluates characteristics such as uniformity of the herd, standardized weight, adequate finish, lower age, and ideal pH of the meat. The strategy followed to stimulate participation by cattle ranchers was to award the best carcasses taken to slaughter between March and August 2019. The first pilot project with PEC was conducted at the unites of Araguaína (TO) and Palmeiras de Goiás (GO, comprising 232 registered cattle farmers and a total of 99,696 slaughtered cattle. During the collection period, it was possible to evaluate the profile of cattle purchased in each state and map the measures that would be carried out with the cattle farmers. The idea is to double the scope of the project in 2020, by adding two more units of Minerva Foods.
Laço de Confiança – Created to promote an ethical and transparent relationship with cattle breeders, through the sharing of technical and practical knowledge related to quality, production, and improvements in sustainable livestock farming. In 2019, 5,761 suppliers were enrolled in the program Laço de Confiança, which loosely translates to Circle of trust. All received information regarding weather conditions by region, technical articles on production practices and increase in productivity, quarterly results of the Company, and confinement research with analysis of market trends and slaughter history, just to mention a few examples.
Minerva Pecuarista – In 2019, the work already done by Laço de Confiança was reinforced and expanded with the launch of the Minerva Pecuarista mobile application. This resource allows the cattle breeder to obtain, by smartphone, information on the slaughter schedule of their animals, history of slaughter, the profile of slaughtered cattle and prices, in addition to being able to download all the documentation involved in the transaction. By the end of 2019, more than 500 suppliers had already downloaded the application. In 2020, the project will enter its second phase, in which new features will be added to the application.
Falando de Pecuária – Held within the framework of the Laço de Confiança, the loosely translated “Talking about Livestock” program consists of meetings, lectures, and field visits to cattle breeders. Throughout the year, technicians, veterinarians, zoo technicians, and agronomists make presentations and talk to suppliers about issues related to quality, sustainability, animal welfare, humanitarian slaughter, among other topics. In 2019, meetings with different cattle ranchers were held in six states – São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Goiás, Mato Grosso, Tocantins, and Rondônia.
Process standardization and
integrated management
ensure best practices

Minerva Foods has standardized internal processes in the areas of occupational health and safety, food safety, environmental and social responsibility, through its Integrated Management System (IMS). In addition to providing greater efficiency in production processes, the procedures reduce exposure to risks and enable a global view of business opportunities and market demands.

The areas encompassed by the Integrated Management System (IMS) work collaboratively, focusing on the continuous improvement of production processes and the sharing of good practices. In 2019, the construction of a routine management system for the production units began. This system is composed of periodic meetings with the business managers that address and deal with each of the pillars mentioned above.

One of the projects, held annually, is Jornada SGI (IMS Journey), which encourages the participation of all employees. In 2019, the event included training and awareness-raising activities on topics relevant to the areas that make up IMS and to the Company’s governance, such as Anti-Bribery, Anti-Corruption, and Conflict of Interest Prevention.

This event also included the annual Open House, which organized social activities for more than 5,000 people that visited the Company’s units. Among the events were basic medical check-ups such as eye exams, blood pressure and glucose measurement, oral health check-ups, and guidelines on breast and prostate cancer prevention. Children’s Day was also celebrated during the Open House event, with the participation of the families of employees and of the surrounding communities.

Additionally, cleaning of the Arroyo Mburicao springs and the banks of the Paraguay River were carried out, with the participation of some 600 Athena Foods employees from Paraguay, resulting in the impressive removal of more than 42tons of recyclable waste.

The IMS also focuses on handling risk and impacts through the management of indicators and formalizing the processes in company documents, which include the health and safety policy, environmental, food safety, and social responsibility, establishing the following guidelines:

  • To promote and protect the health and safety of the people who work at Minerva;
  • Respect the environment through the prevention of pollution and nature conservation;
  • Promote handling practices aimed at animal welfare;
  • To offer safe and quality food products all while working towards continuous improvement;
  • Respect its employees;
  • Promote the participation and development of the Company with the local communities;
  • Comply with legislation;
  • Strive to meet the needs and expectations of its customers.
Excellence is the key
in food quality
and safety

The only company in the meatpacking industry of Latin America to obtain recognition from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a branch of the World Bank that is a benchmark in sustainable practices in the financial market. Minerva Foods applies the most rigorous procedures that have allowed it to add to the brand the highest standards of quality and safety of its food. The Company runs in all of its units auto-control programs that are monitored on a daily basis, among which we highlight the following:

  • Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), which ensures that all hazards considered significant in the production process are kept under control, ensuring the safety of the products marketed by the Company at all stages of the production chain;
  • Standard Operating Hygiene Procedure (PPHO), which defines sanitation and hygiene procedures in the production environment;
  • Operational Sanitary Procedures (OPS), which determine the sanitary guidelines to ensure that products are free from any contamination;
  • Bem-Estar Animal (BEA), animal welfare guidelines that establish and standardize humane methods of animal handling at all stages of the production chain;
  • Boas Práticas de Fabricação (BPF), Good Manufacturing Practices which are standard operating procedures, aimed at protecting the health of the consumer, the employee, and preservation of the environment.

The impacts related to food safety are assessed throughout the production in order to ensure sanitary control in the units and comply with the applicable regulations, legislation and standards. In addition, they are inspected by the Serviço de Inspeção Federal (SIF), a federal inspection service in Brazil, and by the responsible agencies of Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay, and Uruguay, which operate under a continuous inspection schedule.

All of the industrial plants of the Company in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay as well as the Rosario and Pilar units, in Argentina, are certified under the BRCGS standard, recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), a private organization whose focus is the guarantee and standardization of Food Quality and Safety criteria.

In parallel with the certifications obtained through an independent body, the industrial units undergo secondary audits performed by customers such as McDonald’s and Burger King, thereby guaranteeing compliance with legal and customer requirements.

Additionally, there are international certifications for exporting organic meat in the units of Araguaína (TO), Barretos (SP), Janaúba (MG), and Palmeiras de Goiás (GO). This production, subject to annual audit, takes place in certified units that maintain a rigorous traceability system, guaranteeing the consumption of a quality and safe product. All plants in Paraguay and Uruguay are also certified for organic meat exports. The Colombian unit has HACCP certification, which attests to the conformity of the food safety and sanitary self-control system.

In 2019, the industrial units received Missões Sanitárias Internacionais, international health representatives from countries such as the United States, China, Chile, the Philippines, Russia, the European Union, Thailand, and Peru with the objective of evaluating the Brazilian Inspection System and the corresponding systems in each country of operation, on top of meeting specific requirements from the private sector for the production and shipment of safe and quality food.

By focusing on compliance with good practices that ensure the production of safe food, the Company is able to maintain strict control over chemical hazards.

Brazil
All units of Minerva Foods approved for meat exports are submitted to annual monitoring and exploration programs under the National Plan for Control of Residues and Contaminants (PNCRC) for products of animal origin, established by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA). The actions of the PNCRC have the objective of verifying the presence of chemical product residues that are potentially harmful to the health of consumers, such as residues of veterinary drugs, pesticides or similar, environmental contaminants as well as inorganic contaminants.

In parallel, the Company has developed the Programa de Controle de Resíduos Químicos (CRQ), a chemical waste control program which includes laboratory analysis, based on risk assessment of the following aspects, as a methodology for verification:

1. Identification of the regions in Brazil where the cattle are slaughtered;
2. Review of the results of the National Plan for Control of Residues and Contaminants (PNCRC) over the last 6 years, at a national level, to determine the occurrence of chemical residues of reasonable probability;
3. Assessment of “breach warning” systems issued by major importing countries regarding chemicals.

All stock received by the facilities of Minerva Foods is accompanied by a Declaration of the Producer, signed by the owner of the animals, which confirms that no hormones, anabolic substances, antibiotics or growth promoters have been administered to the animals. In this declaration, the producer also confirms that he has observed the grace period determined by the competent authority in connection with the administration of veterinary medicinal products.

Additionally, during the receiving of the animals at the facility, 100% of the lots must be accompanied by a Letter of Guarantee, established by the company and forwarded to the owner at the time of purchase of the cattle, which contains information on the animals that will be slaughtered and whether they received veterinary medicines. All information contained in the letter is duly verified by the professionals of Minerva Foods.

In order to establish a reliable partnership with its suppliers, Minerva Foods promotes a series of meetings entitled Falando de Pecuária, over the years and in the various states in which it has established units. During the “talking about livestock” event as it is loosely translated, lectures are presented, among other activities, on the internal waste control program and its importance in public health and consequently in the international scenario.

Athena Foods
The control of chemical hazards at the units of Athena Foods follows the established National Waste Plans of Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

Each of these plans includes laboratory testing, based on a collection schedule for samples, issued by the government inspection services in order to determine the presence of residues of drugs, antibiotics, and other chemicals.

The Company instructs its suppliers that all lots must comply with the legislation and, upon receipt of the animals, requires a declaration from the owner of the lot stating that no hormones, anabolic substances, antibiotics or other growth-promoting substances have been used.

Innovative structure enhances
animal welfare in sustainability
management

The Animal Welfare Program is incorporated in all businesses of Minerva Foods with the commitment to standardize and modernize the humanitarian methods of handling, shipping, transportation, unloading, and other processes performed within our facilities.

An understanding of animal welfare is an essential part of modern industrial production leading to an intense process of strategic revision of the matter within the Company. The objective was to align the animal welfare program as a key issue for sustainability, in addition to fostering the values that guide Minerva Foods. This resulted in the creation of a new area for specific governance regarding the issue, which is now under the responsibility of Quality Management.

The Animal Welfare practice has acquired corporate strength, and the division now has a professional dedicated exclusively to the matter in each of the respective production units. The Diário de Bordo, a spreadsheet used by these employees, which includes the routine monitoring of the facility, daily and weekly inspections, internal and external management of indicators, and training for the establishment of the animal welfare culture.

The Company believes that this new management model will provide greater discipline in the carrying out of the measures, leading to a continuous improvement in the care of the animals.

Committee
A corporate multidisciplinary Animal Welfare Committee has also been created in an effort to provide greater visibility to the subject. Composed of representatives from the areas of logistics, livestock purchasing, quality, sustainability, and communication. Its objective is to establish strategic guidelines, ensuring the constant evolution of the area, with monitoring of market trends and consumer demands. The committee is also responsible for prioritizing actions and planning investments for the continuous improvement in each of the production units. The main topics discussed are taken to senior management periodically so that internal alignments can be made to define decision making.
The Company’s animal welfare requirements go far beyond complying with Brazilian standards and legislation. It adopts strict animal welfare standards in its processes, following legislation such as European Union Regulation 1099, the American Meat Institute (AMI) Protocol from the United States, and the Traceability Regulation from the European Union, and Chile in addition to meeting specific customer requirements.

Evidence of this corporate commitment is that all the units in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and the units of Rosario and Pilar in Argentina have been certified by the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO) and evaluated by internationally recognized institutions. In addition, more than R$ 970,000.00 were invested throughout the year in activities and measures aimed at animal welfare.

In 2019, all Minerva Foods plants received scores above 96% compliance for audits conducted by PAACO, demonstrating excellence in animal welfare. The Araguaína (TO), Barretos (SP), Janaúba (MG), and Palmeiras de Goiás (GO) plants located in Brazil and all units in Paraguay and Uruguay have organic certifications that also attest to criteria regarding the degree of animal welfare.
Find out more on the topic of “Animals”.

Program
The Company maintains an Animal Welfare Program based on a strict policy of zero tolerance towards acts of abuse, negligence or mistreatment of animals, always striving to apply the best handling practices, training for those involved and continuous verification processes at all stages of production. For this purpose, specific internal auto-control procedures have been adopted in all plants of Brazil and abroad, encompassing daily and weekly checklists of indicators, in addition to monthly internal audits.

Indicators such as the number of falls, slips, vocalization, use of the cattle prod, the stun efficiency, transport mortality, severity of bruises and others are considered. These assessments are used as a continuous diagnostic tool and management of animal welfare, ensuring the implementation of best practices and to identify the need for corrective actions in the processes.

Each week, the development of the animal welfare indicators of each of the units is discussed in corporate meetings of the quality area, in which action plans are discussed, establishing deadlines for execution, prioritizing investments, and carrying out the ranking of the units according to the KPIs and pre-established goals. Some indicators, such as the severity of bruising, for example, are part of the Company’s book of goals and are also linked to the collective goals of the industry.

To ensure that the facilities remain in good condition at all times, Minerva Foods has developed a specific project for the diagnosis of critical points called “Trajeto do Boi” (Path of the Bull). The objective is to seek continuous improvement of the structures within the industry, such as landing ramps, gates, corridors, corrals, and stun boxes, in addition to constantly checking the entire fleet of trucks. In the event that any deviations are found, there is an immediate suspension of the evaluated site and/or transportation truck until the non-conformity is resolved.

Minerva Foods also maintains contingency plans for emergency disaster situations described in its internal self-controls, prepared by the corporate crisis management team, containing guidelines for rapid decision making in special cases. The plans foresee adverse situations such as water and electricity shortages, ammonia leakage, floods, fire, typhoon, earthquake, accidents in transportation with live load, and an unexpected drop in the number of employees, among others.

All non-compliances identified by federal agencies are promptly resolved and serve as a basis for correcting deviations and combating recurrence.

Training
Minerva Foods focuses its activities and operations on frequent training of both its internal staff and suppliers to help spread the knowledge about the key guidelines that will guarantee the efficient execution of its Animal Welfare Program.

In 2019, 200 internal and 569 external employees were trained. Training is conducted by the head technicians of animal welfare of each unit, who conduct biannual training for all professionals that handle live cattle in the industry and those involved in their transportation. In addition, annual training programs are conducted in collaboration with outside consultants such as BEA Consultoria, World Animal Protection (WAP), and SPT Training, in order to cement good animal welfare practices into the routine of the workers. Training sessions are also held for cattle ranchers and their collaborators in addition to the periodically held Falando de Pecuária meetings where animal welfare is widely discussed.

At all training sessions on animal welfare, Minerva Foods prepares specific training material called BEA Kit. In the training of cattle breeders, the material includes the Minerva Booklet, with instructions for good animal management practices; calendar with the list of the main medications and respective grace periods; legislation of the National Policy for the Control of Chemical Residues; and Letter of Guarantee. On farms that do not have an effective management of drug application, an instructional template is delivered. In order to reach as many cattle ranchers as possible, this material has been sent by e-mail or by the cattle truck operators.

The Five domains
The Animal Welfare Program of Minerva Foods has its own identity embodied within its logo. Its guidelines are based on the five areas of Animal Welfare recommended by the Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC). The model is used as a tool for the evaluation and management of animal welfare because it enables a more integrated view of the process.
The five domains are:

Domain 1: Nutrition
Adequate nutrition, available food, and water

Domain 2: Environment
Opportunity and choice of environments

Area 3: Health
Absence of diseases, injuries and/or any functional impairment

Domain 4: Behavior
Expression of natural behaviors and interactions

Domain 5: Mental states
Predominance of positive feelings

Events
Corporate teams responsible for the quality, livestock purchasing, and sustainability are also frequently trained in animal welfare through lectures, workshops, and national conventions. The Company also participates, through its corporate representatives, in lectures at academic events in areas related to the business.

In 2019, an event promoted by Minerva Foods in partnership with MSD Animal Health addressed the principal methods used to reduce stress in the daily handling of cattle in order to increase the production and quality indexes of the final product. The event was attended by Temple Grandin, a world-renowned professional in the field of humane animal handling, who also visited the facilities of the Barretos (SP) unit. The event was attended by 288 participants, including cattle farmers, consultants, certifying agents and Minerva Foods employees.

Animals
All cattle purchased by Minerva Foods are raised with the freedom of movement, with gregarious behavior being maintained and respected at all stages of the chain, throughout the breeding, rearing, fattening, and pre-slaughter process. In Brazil, in 2019, the cattle acquired by Minerva Foods came from 21.28% of cattle raised only on pasture, 15.72% in semi-confinement, 12.56% in confinement to pasture and 50.44% in confinement. Contrary to what is observed in the United States where animals are confined since weaning, in Brazil confinement is used at finishing, in which the animals stay only 90 to 120 days at an average stocking density of 15.5m/animal, equivalent to only 8% to 10% of their lifetime. Breeding and rearing are steps realized entirely out on pasture.

In semi-confinement and pasture confinement, which are finishing strategies developed in Brazil, the animals are provided with feed via trough (1% to 2% of the live weight) but continue to have access to pasture. Furthermore, in Brazil, semi-confinement or confinement diets are prepared with grains or their derivatives; there is no use of animal by-products, hormones, or their equivalents for fattening. The Company has 115 certified cattle ranchers in Brazil, with more than 69 thousand animals raised for organic production, complying with regulations 834/2007 and 889/2008 of the European Community and the National Organic Program (NOP) of the United States. These animals are guaranteed to be free from antibiotics, growth hormones and animal feed supplemented with animal by-products, as well as meeting the highest standards of animal welfare.

Furthermore, the Company does not encourage prophylactic use of antibiotics in the breeding of animals, in line with global trends of awareness on the matter. Nor does it encourage the practice of genetic engineering, cloning, or the use of growth hormones in its production. All lots of incoming cattle are accompanied by a Declaration from the Producer that no hormones, anabolic agents, antibiotics, and/or antimicrobial substances have been administered as growth promoters, such as doxycycline and ractopamine, among others. To receive the animals, the Company requires a Letter of Guarantee, signed by the owner of the cattle, with the description of all medications applied and if the grace period has been observed in this group of animals.

In respect to the practices of mutilations, the Company does not require the castration of animals, even for its Premium lines. All of the protocols that have been elaborated allow for the inclusion of whole animals of appropriate age, controlled by dentition of milk teeth. This is evident in the fact that in 2019, 97.3% of the animals slaughtered at Minerva Foods’ facilities in Brazil were not castrated.

Other invasive surgical procedures, when appropriate, such as castration, dehorning, birthing and cesarean sections, should always be performed by a competent professional and preoperative and postoperative care should strictly observe all instructions regarding pain mitigation.

The Company avoids transporting cattle for longer than eight hours to slaughter. It only recommends transporting castrated males and females within a radius of 400 kilometers and bases its purchase portfolio on farms located within an average radius of 228 kilometers from the slaughter units (on average four hours). All trucks have a predetermined route and transport density recommendation, and truck drivers are trained in specific animal welfare and defensive driving topics every semester.

The commitment to carry out humane slaughter includes the stunning of 100% of the animals, with the exception of those destined for specific markets under religious requirements. Kosher slaughter accounted for 3.5% of all slaughter in 2019.

Indicators
Minerva Foods utilizes the most modern equipment and maintains specialized employees in its operational units with the objective of ensuring the welfare of the animals in all stages of the process. For this purpose, surveillance cameras are installed in eight of the units in Brazil and all of its units in Uruguay. Below are the main animal welfare indicators for the units in Brazil.
Residues and contaminants
All units approved to export meat undergo an annual monitoring and evaluation program of the National Residue and Contaminant Control Plan (PNCRC) for Animal Products, established by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply (MAPA). The objective of the plan is to verify the presence of chemical residues that are potentially harmful to consumer health, such as residues of veterinary medications, pesticides or the like, and environmental and inorganic contaminants. In addition, the Chemical Waste Control Program, based on the results obtained by the PNCRC at the Brazilian level, and from the units themselves, is maintained for a period of six years.
Supply chain
In Brazil, all cattle ranchers, transporters, and business partners of Minerva Foods must undergo an evaluation. This eligibility program allows the Company to gain access to a number of leading suppliers in the chain and to establish animal welfare commitments for different animals, such as poultry and pigs. Minerva itself does not have any poultry, swine, or fish raising programs, with all the raw material used being purchased from third parties.

Most suppliers have a published corporate animal welfare policy and use animal welfare indicators within their target management framework. They also comply with the requirements of not using cloned and genetically modified animals, or growth hormones. They all carry out stunning practices before slaughter.

Swine – All hog suppliers are committed to transition from individual cage gestation systems to collective broiler gestation systems. In addition, they are committed to reducing and/or abolishing mutilations in the animals, with 100% of the suppliers performing immunocastration in place of invasive surgical castration, and refraining from performing teeth or dent cutting procedures as a form of identification and instead employing tattooing as an alternative.
Poultry – Suppliers of poultry maintain cage-free birds and do not perform crest cutting and/or wing trimming during rearing. All have a transport policy of less than eight hours and poultry destined for Minerva Foods’ products do not remain in transport for longer than two hours on average.
Cattle – All suppliers of beef raw materials, whether processing companies or rural cattle ranches, are in compliance with the animal welfare policy and respect each of the commitments established by the Company. They are also committed to good practices concerning non-routine use of mutilation procedures.