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25 August 2014 | Gurjit Degun
Nestlé has pledged to improve the welfare of animals in its supply chain by signing up to an agreement with non-governmental organisation (NGO) World Animal Protection.
It means that the hundreds of thousands of farms that supply Nestlé with its dairy, meat, poultry and eggs will have to comply with tighter animal welfare standards. Nestlé said it is the first major food company to form an international partnership with an animal welfare NGO.
Nestlé said it will initially focus on getting rid of dehorning, tail docking, disbudding and castration without anaesthetic and analgesia, veal crates, permanent tethering, cage systems for poultry, particularly barren battery cages, and fast-growing practices.
The company explained that it is working with its suppliers to establish action plans to address the practices and to help them to improve their performance by “applying the overall approach of: remove the worst, promote the best, improve the rest”.
Nestlé has commissioned independent auditor SGS to ensure the new standards of animal welfare are met on its supplying farms. Some of the visits are also attended, unannounced, by World Animal Protection representatives to verify the auditors.
Nestlé added: “When a violation is identified, Nestlé will work with the supplier to improve the treatment of farm animals to ensure they meet the required standards. If, despite engagement and guidance from Nestlé, the company is unable or unwilling to show improvement, it will no longer supply Nestlé.”
The move has been praised Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO at the Humane Society of the United States. “This announcement marks the most comprehensive and ambitious animal welfare program by a global food retailer to date,” he said. “It builds on the enormous momentum we have created for moving away from the intensive confinement of animals on factory farms and marks new progress on issues related to the routine mutilation of animals. It also sounds the death knell for selective breeding practices that compromise the health of animals in order to achieve accelerated growth.”