AsureQuality Animal Welfare

Animal Welfare

We have a deep responsibility to do the right thing for food and the environment it comes from so have developed the AsureQuality Animal Welfare (Meat chickens and Turkeys) Standard and associated AQ Certified Animal Welfare Assurance Mark.

As New Zealand’s largest and most established provider of food assurance, animal welfare and biosecurity services to the food and primary production sectors, we saw the need for a robust, rigorous and independent animal welfare certification programme to encourage and support improvements in animal welfare practices in New Zealand.

AQ Certified Animal Welfare Assurance Mark

The Mark provides confidence that products displaying the Mark were produced with a high standard of animal welfare.

It certifies that the producer has been independently audited to consistently satisfy the strict requirements of the AsureQuality Animal Welfare Standard.

What is the AsureQuality Animal Welfare Standard?

  • The Standard is an internationally recognised animal welfare certification programme.
  • It is independently owned by AsureQuality.
  • It covers animal welfare in both barn and free range farms.
  • It shows that producers have exceeded the minimum requirements of the Ministry of Primary Industries Code of Welfare. 
  • The Standard covers 21 different elements with 111 specific requirements criteria and measures related to animal welfare across farm, processing and head office activities.

What makes the Standard good?

  • The Standard has been developed with extensive input from independent animal welfare and industry experts, and benchmarked against existing animal welfare programmes – both here in New Zealand and overseas.
  • It is subject to a rigorous ongoing continuous improvement process overseen by an expert Advisory and Governance Group to ensure the Standard remains robust, credible, and relevant.
  • This Standard is the first in New Zealand to achieve independent Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) approval.
  • JAS-ANZ(external link)(external link)  also provides on-going oversight to ensure the Standard and all things associated with it remains robust, rigorous and independent.
  • JAS-ANZ is an accreditation authority that is responsible for determining the technical competence and integrity of organisations such as AsureQuality.  

Find Answers to Common Questions

Can I trust the AQ Animal Welfare Assurance Mark?

Yes, you can trust this to be an independent certification. AsureQuality is owned by the New Zealand Government and has a heritage of over 100 years as a trusted independent expert in food assurance and in auditing animal welfare standards and practices on New Zealand’s farms. We follow very strict processes and practices around the Standard. Our auditors are NZQA qualified and have undergone additional industry and animal welfare training. We have ensured a rigorous continuous improvement process driven by an independent and expert Advisory and Governance Group to ensure the Standard remains robust, credible, and relevant. JAS-ANZ oversees all aspects of the certification process, including on-site audits of the auditors themselves. The Advisory and Governance Group comprises of independent industry experts who contribute to continuous improvement of the Standard ensuring that it always remains relevant and up to date.

How does a producer get to use the AQ Animal Welfare Assurance Mark?

They apply to be certified against the AsureQuality Animal Welfare Standard. AsureQuality will then conduct independent audits (against the requirements of the Standard) of the producer’s farm, production facility and head office activities. Once the producer has successfully passed all audits, they become certified against the Standard and granted rights to use the Mark on their products. The correct use of the Mark is strictly overseen by AsureQuality. The producer is regularly re-audited to ensure they are consistently maintaining activities in line with the requirements of the Standard.

How often is a producer audited?

The farms, production facilities and head office are audited at least annually at a minimum, although they will be audited more frequently if there are any areas of concern.

What types of farms does the Standard cover?

The Standard can cover all meat chicken and turkey farming systems in New Zealand, including both barn and free-range producers. It is also about encouraging best practice and raising industry standards for all chickens, regardless of how they were farmed.

Why has AsureQuality developed this Standard and associated Mark?

We recognise that animal welfare is a growing consideration for everyone. The Standard and the Mark are designed to provide assurance that the producer exceeded the minimum requirements for animal welfare in New Zealand. We see this as a natural and meaningful extension of our central role in New Zealand’s food production industries. As a trusted expert in food assurance, we are in a unique position and we want to encourage and support high standards of animal welfare practices on New Zealand's farms.