Nestle, the global food giant known for its Nestle Crunch Bars, announced its new animal welfare program that will eliminate some common but cruel practices from its global food supply chain. Those cruel practices include confining sows in gestation crates, calves in veal crates and egg-laying chickens in cages. Nestle’s new guidelines also require that veterinary practices be implemented for farm animals that reduce pain or avoid practices that cause pain. Dehorning cows is one example. (Cow horns are removed so they can’t injure other cows.)
The announcement came after Nestle signed a partnership agreement with World Animal Protection International, making it the first major food company to form an international partnership with an animal welfare organization. World Animal Protection has been working with Nestle to improve its Responsible Sourcing Guideline, which all suppliers must follow as part of the company’s supplier code.
The new policy means that the hundreds of thousands of farms within Nestle’s supply chain have to comply with more humane animal welfare standards. When Nestle identifies a violation, it will work with the supplier to improve the farm animals’ treatment. If a company will not comply or show improvement, it will not be a supplier any longer. Nestle states on its website that it will “gradually” implement these requirements across their extended global supply chain.
“Our decision to work with Nestlé is based upon their clear commitment to improving animal welfare and the lasting change this can have on millions of farm animals around the world,” said Mike Baker, chief executive of World Animal Protection.
The drivers behind the shift away from cruel farm animal practices
For the past few years, a number of companies have made announcements regarding phasing out cruel farm animal practices from its supply chains. Last year, I talked to Josh Balk, director of corporate policy for the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) Farm Animal Protection department. When I asked him what is driving companies to phase out practices like the use of gestation crates, he said, “In most cases, when presented with the facts about gestation crates, they work to eliminate them.” HSUS works with large food companies, sitting down with them and talking about certain farm practices. “That’s usually all it takes for companies to make great strides,” Balk said.
Balk cited three drivers for the shift away from confinement methods and other cruel practices: legislation, meat reduction efforts and consumer demand. A number of states have passed laws to protect farm animals. Many consumers are eating less meat. Meatless Monday is a good example. Some companies support Meatless Monday, including Burger King. Not only are consumers eating less meat, but they are also in favor of more humane practices. As Balk put it, the treatment of farm animals “causes a more visceral reaction.”
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