Walmart, the largest food retailer in the U.S., recently announced a new animal welfare policy. It’s a policy animal rights groups are calling groundbreaking as it engages the company’s entire supply chain and covers a wide range of issues from antibiotic use to housing systems.
The policy applies to all of the company's U.S. operations, including its subsidiary, Sam’s Club. Back in October, Walmart announced its commitment to making its food supply chain more sustainable.
The new policy includes the responsible use of antimicrobials, including antibiotics. It asks suppliers to adopt and implement the Judicious Use Principles of Antimicrobial Use from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which states that when veterinarians decide to use antimicrobials they “should strive to optimize therapeutic efficacy and minimize resistance to antimicrobials to protect public and animal health and well-being.” In other words, antimicrobials should be limited to animals that are sick or at risk.
The policy asks suppliers to be proactive in eliminating animal abuse, including:
“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, in a statement. “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’s new policy proves that the retail giant is capable of appropriately responding to campaigns led against it. The wide reach of the company signals that the “era of confining farm animals in cages will come to an end,” as Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the U.S., wrote in a blog post. That's good news for the millions of farm animals across America.
Image credit: Flickr/Mike Mozart
Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.