Walmart's 'game-changing' new position on animal welfare

The world's largest retail company, Walmart, accounts for 1 in every 4 grocery dollars spent in the USA. Now the company has put factory farmers on notice, with new policies reflecting a customer-driven shift away from some of the cruellest practices inflicted on animals raised for food.


LAST UPDATED: 2 June 2015

Confining a mother pig to a 'crate' so small she can't even turn around is a horrifying thought for most people. It's also standard industry practice in Australian and US factory farms. But as awareness of the cruelty of factory farming grows, key industry players are responding.

Following Nestlé's groundbreaking commitments last year, global retail giant Walmart's recently announced animal welfare policy is another step in the right direction.

The Five Freedoms:
1. Freedom from hunger and thirst.
2. Freedom from discomfort.
3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease.
4. Freedom to express normal behaviour.
5. Freedom from fear and distress.

For the first time, the company has flagged working with suppliers to ensure practices are consistent with the 'Five Freedoms' — internationally accepted animal welfare guidelines that effectively rule out factory farming.

Sow stalls or 'farrowing crates' wouldn't be acceptable under any system that meets the Five Freedoms. Neither would keeping laying hens in battery cages, or forcing animals to endure surgical procedures without pain relief, like castration or tail and teeth cutting — all routine and standard in factory farms around the world.

Our customers have told us that they want to know more about where their food comes from, and how it was sourced ... Walmart believes that animals should be treated humanely throughout their lives.Kathleen McLaughlin, Walmart senior Vice-President

Walmart also confirmed it's asking suppliers to abide by recommendations to reduce the use and misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture, aimed at addressing the global superbug threat to human health.

While there's as yet no timeframe for these changes — and the guidelines aren't compulsory, unlike Nestlé's — a player as huge as Walmart has the power to influence the rest of the market simply by shifting direction.

Walmart's animal welfare announcement is game-changing progress, and signals to agribusiness that the era of confining farm animals is ending.Wayne Pacelle, Humane Society chief executive

But you don't have to wait for supermarkets or factory farmers to change their practices if you want to help animals! Discover how you can join millions of caring people in creating a kinder world through simple, everyday choices.

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