Walmart U.S. announces new animal welfare, antibiotics positions

Company outlines expectations for suppliers to Walmart U.S. and Sam's Club U.S.

Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club U.S. today announced new positions around animal welfare and the use of antibiotics in farm animals as a next step in continuously improving the sustainability of items it sells.

“Walmart is committed to selling products that sustain people and the environment,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Walmart Foundation and senior vice president of Walmart 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.”

Walmart said it believes animals should be treated humanely and that it will not tolerate abuse. Additionally, the company announced it 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.

Moving forward, Walmart is asking 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 Walmart and publicly reporting against their own corporate animal welfare position on annual basis.

The company also outlined new policy for the use of antibiotics in farm animals, which it stated should be used “responsibly.” The company is asking suppliers to:
 

  • Adopt and implement the Judicious Use Principles of Antimicrobial Use from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) 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 Walmart and publicly report antibiotic use on an annual basis.

In October 2014, Walmart 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. 

“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, Walmart is committed to using our strengths to drive transparency and improvement across the supply chain,” said McLaughlin.  “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.”

The National Pork Producers Council applauded Walmart’s commitment to sustainable and responsible farming, which America’s pork producers make every day.

“By using antibiotics responsibly and providing humane and compassionate care for their animals, pork producers ensure animal health and well-being and a safe, wholesome food supply,” Dr. Ron Prestage, veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C., said in a statement. “Walmart’s recognition of that proves that America’s farmers, not extreme animal activist groups, should be setting food policy.”

Prestage said America’s hog farmers are committed to using industry practices that have been designed with input from veterinarians and other animal-care experts to provide humane and compassionate care for their pigs at every stage of life.

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