Wal-Mart announces new policies for livestock producers

by Lawrence Aylward
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Wal-Mart wants its meat suppliers to adopt new rules for animal welfare and antibiotic use.

BENTONVILLE, ARK. — Wal-Mart U.S. and Sam’s Club U.S. are urging their suppliers to adopt new rules when it comes to animal welfare and antibiotic use. While Wal-Mart, the nation’s biggest retailer, isn’t mandating the new rules, the company said it will not tolerate animal abuse.

The company announced on May 22 new positions around animal welfare and the responsible use of antibiotics in farm animals. Regarding animal welfare, Wal-Mart stated it believes animals should be treated humanely throughout their lives. As part of its animal welfare position statement, Wal-Mart said it will not tolerate animal abuse, supports the globally recognized “Five Freedoms” of animal welfare and is committed to working with supply chain partners to implement practices consistent with the Five Freedoms. Wal-Mart said is encouraging suppliers to:

• Report and take disciplinary and corrective action in cases of animal abuse.

• Find and implement solutions to address animal welfare concerns in housing systems, painful procedures and euthanasia or slaughter.

• Promote transparency by providing progress reports to Wal-Mart and publicly reporting against their own corporate animal welfare position on annual basis.

Regarding the use of antibiotics in the production of livestock in its supply chain, Wal-Mart said it believes antibiotics should be used responsibly in farm animals. The company is asking suppliers to:

• Adopt and implement the Judicious Use Principles of Antimicrobial Use from the American Veterinary Medical Association (A.V.M.A.), including accurate record-keeping, veterinary oversight, and limiting antimicrobial treatment to animals that are ill or at risk.

• Adopt and implement Voluntary Guidance for Industry #209 from the Food and Drug Administration in their own operations and their industry producer programs, including eliminating growth promotion uses of medically important antibiotics.

• Promote transparency by providing a report on antibiotics management to Wal-Mart and publicly report antibiotic use on an annual basis.

The president of the Wal-Mart foundation said the company is committed to selling products that sustain the environment.

“Wal-Mart is committed to selling products that sustain people and the environment,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Wal-Mart Foundation and senior vice-president of Wal-Mart sustainability. “We have listened to our customers, and are asking our suppliers to engage in improved reporting standards and transparency measures regarding the treatment of farm animals.”

Last October, Wal-Mart announced its commitment to a sustainable food system, outlining four key pillars to reach this goal: improving the affordability of food for both customers and the environment, increasing access to food, making healthier eating easier, and improving the safety and transparency of the food chain. By releasing its new antibiotic and animal welfare positions today, Wal-Mart said it continues to build on this important commitment.

“Our customers want to know more about how their food is grown and raised, and where it comes from. As the nation’s largest grocer, Wal-Mart is committed to using our strengths to drive transparency and improvement across the supply chain,” Ms. McLaughlin said. “We believe it’s important to promote transparency in this process, helping to put our customers in charge of their food choices by providing clear, accurate information about food ingredients. We appreciate the leadership our suppliers have shown to help us accomplish these goals.”
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