We serve more than 1 million meals each day made up of 2,000+ different ingredients and there is no single issue more important to Darden than food safety. We have an international team of more than 50 biologists, food scientists and public health professionals dedicated to implementing and continually improving our industry-leading food safety/total quality program.
In Darden's view, the best way to ensure the safety of the food we purchase is to go directly to the source as well as to multiple points across the supply chain. Our objective is to have traceability from "pond to plate" or from "farm to fork." We use a risk-based, Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) approach which provides the highest level of security across all levels of the supply chain. We employ field plant inspectors in the U.S. and abroad who inspect food plants, processes and products to verify they meet our standards before they are shipped. We also have 18 total quality managers in the field who, as registered sanitarians, review and certify in-restaurant food processes to ensure the integrity of the system all the way through to when the meal is delivered to the guest.
Darden is transitioning our entire supplier base to Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Third Party Audits. While we have long conducted food safety audits of our suppliers utilizing Darden TQ personnel and Third Party auditors, our objective is to harmonize the process, ensuring that we are applying the same, internationally recognized food safety standards across our global supply chain. GS1 barcodes have been used on packaged goods for decades, but have only recently begun being used for fresh food products.
Animal welfare is another key food-related priority for Darden. As a purchaser of beef, poultry and pork, we believe ensuring the welfare of the animals in our supply chain is an ethical imperative guided by science. Darden has developed a set of Food Animal Welfare Principles and Policies and we have an Animal Welfare Working Group made up of Darden representatives and external experts to continually monitor animal welfare issues and ensure we apply the standards within our supply chain. Our suppliers are required to certify their animal welfare practices and conduct third-party audits of their practices, and we conduct on-site assessments.