The men and women who raise hogs in Iowa are celebrating National Pork Month in October and want consumers to know they are firmly committed to the We Care ethical principles of pork production.
This means protecting and promoting animal well-being, humanely producing safe food, safeguarding natural resources, ensuring all production practices protect public health, contributing to a better quality of life in their communities, and providing a safe work environment on the farm.
These six ethical principles were adopted in 2008 and help guide each person who raises hogs in Iowa and across the nation. The purpose of the We Care initiative is to maintain a safe, high-quality pork supply.
"The ethical principles define our values and who we are," says Iowa Pork Producers Association President Curtis Meier of Clarinda. "Consumers can be confident that the pork they eat was raised using the ethical principles."
Pork Month is a celebration of all things pork and farmers want to make sure that today's consumers, many of whom are generations removed from the farm, know how pork is raised today.
"If you eat, you have a connection to a farmer," said Meier. "October Pork Month is an opportunity to reestablish that producer-to-consumer relationship. Our mission is to produce safe, nutritious food in a responsible manner, and we need to share how we do that with consumers."
Pork is the world's most widely eaten meat, representing 42 percent of all meat consumed, according to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.
The top five most popular cuts sold in the United States are center-cut chops, assorted chops, back ribs, blade roasts and center-cut loin roasts, according to Nielsen Perishable Group retail sales data for the 52 weeks ending July 1, 2017. In terms of value, center-cut chops accounted for more than $980 million in sales, assorted chops for $484 million, back ribs for $422 million, blade roasts for $289 million and center-cut loin roasts for $275 million.
"Consumers are putting more pork on their fork," said Meier. "To ensure a flavorful eating experience, we remind consumers to cook pork until the internal temperature reaches between 145 degrees and 160 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a three-minute rest."