WASHINGTON, Aug. 21, 2014— Nestlé, the world’s largest food company measured by revenue, announced new animal welfare standards for its supply chain today, in partnership with World Animal Protection.
Nestlé, whose brands include Dreyer's, Lean Cuisine and Butterfinger, is the first major food company to form an international partnership with an animal welfare NGO. The new standards include spacing requirements for livestock pens, as well as veterinary practices that reduce pain.
As part of its Commitment on Farm Animal Welfare, the company will first focus on eliminating the following practices: dehorning; tail docking; disbudding and castrating cattle without anesthetic, as well as removing veal crates; sow gestation crates, tail docking and surgical castration for pigs. For poultry, the company said it will eliminate cage systems, particularly barren battery cages, and fast-growing practices.
Nestlé also said it would work with its suppliers to use antibiotics in line with World Organization for Animal Health standards, and phase out the use of growth promoters.
The company’s Responsible Sourcing Guidelines, which include the updated animal welfare standards, apply to hundreds of thousands of farms worldwide. Nestlé has about 7,300 suppliers that directly provide animal-derived products, and each of those suppliers buys from others.
As for enforcement, the company said it would work with suppliers to establish action plans to address the targeted practices. It said it will help suppliers improve by “applying the overall approach of: ‘Remove the worst, Promote the best, Improve the rest.’”
An independent auditor, SGS, will carry out checks to ensure the new standards are met on Nestlé’s supplying farms. Some of these checks are also attended, unannounced, by World Animal Protection representatives, according to the guidelines.
When a violation is found and a supplier does not show improvement after guidance from the company, it can no longer supply Nestlé, the company added.
Nestlé pledged that by the end of next year, 40 percent of the company’s key commodities -- including meat, poultry, eggs and dairy -- will be fully traceable.
Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) President Wayne Pacelle said the announcement “marks the most comprehensive and ambitious animal welfare program by a global food retailer to date.”
HSUS also pointed out that Nestlé promotes the Meatless Monday campaign, which encourages consumers to avoid eating meat one day a week, through messaging on some Lean Cuisine products.
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