At the beginning of the year, Atria launched its antibiotic-free pork.
“We were able to do this thanks to high professionalism, hard work and a strong will to produce the world's cleanest food,” say Christer Storfors, owner of pig farm in Maalahti, and Taneli Tirkkonen, Atria's veterinarian.
Taneli Tirkkonen, Atria's veterinarian, is holding some green ear tags in his hand. They are a concrete example of the factors behind Atria's success in launching the antibiotic-free pork. If a pig has not received antibiotics during its lifetime, this will be signalled by a green ear tag with a unique serial number. If the animal for some reason has been ill and been treated with antibiotics, it will be marked with a separate ear tag, which also contains a unique serial number.
“At Atria Family Farms, the pigs are numbered continuously. We know what the animals eat and, if need be, how they are medicated,” Tirkkonen explains. The green ear tags are just a small part of Atria's new way of work through which the company will verify that the meat is antibiotic-free all the way to the packaging.
But there is a lot more to it.
“Raising animals completely antibiotic-free and documenting the entire process is surprisingly complicated,” says Tirkkonen. “Together with the producers we have been able to develop a certifiably antibiotic-free production concept. This was not done overnight. We have been working together for a long time now. I'm happy about the end result,” he adds.
“Others can't do this”
One of the Atria Family Farms producing antibiotic-free pork is located in Maalahti on the Finnish West Coast.
“Consumers value clean food. It is important that today we can show what we are doing here. We are doing something that others can't do. I am proud of that,” says Christer Storfors. “The well-being of animals is the cornerstone of everything. For me it is very important that the animals are doing well", Christer states.
Animal husbandry in Finland is in itself one of the cleanest and safest in the world, but in the antibiotic-free production of pork, everything is done even better. “We want to offer our consumers the opportunity to choose pork that is even better and even more transparently and responsibly produced,” Tirkkonen says.
New ways and strong will
Antibiotic-free pork is the sum of many factors: it takes some completely new ways of work, hard work and, above all, the producers' strong will to produce the world's cleanest food.
“It all begins with emptying and washing the whole section. We make sure that all germs are dead,” Storfors explains.
The pigs' feed comes from nearby and its contents are known in detail. “Our pigs mainly eat what we produce on our own fields,” Storfors says.
“Pigs at Atria Family Farms are fed a diet based on Finnish grain and Finnish protein. With pigs raised for meat we have reached 98 per cent soya-free feeding and our target is to reach 100 per cent. This is important in terms of both responsibility and our trade balance,” says Tirkkonen.
According to him, antibiotic-free pork production has a solid foundation in the world's safest animal husbandry, an environment where the animals are well and healthy. A well raised pig is a healthy pig.
“The well-being of animals is the cornerstone of everything. For me it is very important that the pigs are doing well. When you visit a pig farm, you'll know at once whether the animals are doing well,” Storfors says.