Benefits of Transport Quality Assurance Certification, By Professional portrait of Ryan Samuel Ryan Samuel Assistant Professor & SDSU Extension Swine Specialist

The Transport Quality Assurance® (abbreviated as TQA) certification program from the National Pork Board is designed to promote the highest standards of animal welfare and pork quality during transportation. This program focuses on educating and certifying swine transporters, producers, and handlers on best practices for handling, loading, and transporting pigs to minimize stress and ensure their well-being. Through proper training and adherence to TQA guidelines, anyone responsible for developing protocols, handling, or transporting hogs plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the welfare of pigs and enhancing the quality of pork products.

Benefits of Certification

(Courtesy: National Pork Board)

Improved pig welfare.
One of the key aspects of the TQA program is its emphasis on understanding the impact of handling and transportation on pigs. Pigs are particularly susceptible to stress during loading, unloading, and transportation. By minimizing stress and injury, pigs are healthier and easier to move and handle.

Enhanced pork quality.
Handling and transport stress can negatively affect meat quality. The TQA program provides training on how to handle pigs humanely and efficiently, ensuring minimal stress during loading, unloading, and transportation. When pigs experience stress during transit, it can lead to undesirable effects on the meat, such as pale, soft, and exudative (abbreviated as PSE) pork or dark, firm, and dry (abbreviated as DFD) pork. These quality issues can negatively impact the taste and texture of the meat, affecting consumer satisfaction. Training includes the use of proper equipment and techniques to guide pigs without causing harm to the animal or pork quality.

Disease prevention.
The TQA program also focuses on the importance of maintaining clean and safe transport vehicles. Transporters are reminded to wear clean clothes and boots and to sanitize vehicles between loads to prevent the spread of disease and maintain a healthy environment for the pigs. Additionally, proper ventilation and temperature control within the transport vehicle are essential for pig comfort and health during transit.

Safety for transporters.
By adhering to the TQA guidelines, transporters can reduce the risk of injury to themselves and the animals, as well as prevent animal mortalities during transport. Proper use of handling and personal protective equipment leads to safter working conditions.

Improved collaboration.
The TQA program also underscores the importance of communication and collaboration among all stakeholders in the pork supply chain. Transporters must work closely with producers and processors to ensure a smooth and efficient transportation process that prioritizes pig welfare. This collaborative approach helps maintain the integrity of the entire pork production system, from farm to table.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, the TQA certification program plays a vital role in promoting the well-being of pigs and the quality of pork products during transportation. By providing comprehensive training and guidelines for transporters, the program helps ensure that pigs are treated humanely, and that pork quality is preserved. As the pork industry continues to evolve, the TQA program remains a cornerstone of responsible and ethical animal handling practices.

Individuals interested in receiving TQA certification to become handlers can find a TQA advisor at the Pork Checkoff website or by contacting Ryan Samuel.