Working to Improve Farm Animal Welfare
What is Nestlé’s policy on the treatment of farm animals?
We are committed to improving farm animal welfare across our global supply chains.
We have had a global Commitment on Farm Animal Welfare since 2012, which we updated in 2014. This Commitment forms the basis of our responsible sourcing requirements on meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products and is part of our non-negotiable Responsible Sourcing Guideline. All of our suppliers must comply with the requirements in the guideline, which incorporates the World Organization for Animal Health’s “Five Freedoms.”
In addition, we firmly believe that robust farm animal health and welfare standards can have both a direct and an indirect impact on food quality and safety.
What sourcing guidelines do you follow?
We began implementing our current Responsible Sourcing requirements for meat, poultry and eggs in 2014. We assess practices at farm level using the Nestlé Responsible Sourcing Assessment protocol.
Our category-specific requirements (pdf, 1.58Mb), cover issues such as breeding, feeding, housing, husbandry, health, and transport.
In November 2013, we began farm-level assessments of animal welfare practices in our supply chain. These include assessments of our dairy, meat, poultry and egg supply chains, which include farm animal welfare practices. These independent assessments are commissioned from a third-party firm and we publish the findings from these assessments in our annual Nestlé in Society report.
We continue to work with our suppliers to address problems identified through these assessments and scale up good practices. We know there is work to be done, and we’re committed to working with our suppliers to continue to improve welfare standards for farm animals.
What specifically are you doing to improve conditions for animals?
We are committed to eliminating from our global supply chain specific practices that are not consistent with the internationally accepted “Five Freedoms” as described by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE):
- Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition;
- Freedom from fear and distress;
- Freedom from physical and thermal discomfort;
- Freedom from pain, injury and disease; and
- Freedom to express normal patterns of behavior.
Among the specific practices we have committed to eliminating are:
- For cattle: dehorning; tail docking, disbudding and castration without anesthetic and analgesia; and veal crates;
- For pigs: gestation crates; tail docking; and surgical castration;
- For poultry and eggs: cage systems, particularly barren cages; and rapid-growth practices with respect to the effects on animal health and welfare; and
- For animal production systems in general: our first focus is the responsible use of antibiotics in line with the OIE's guidance, and the phasing out of growth promoters.
We work with our suppliers to establish action plans to address these practices and to help them to improve their performance by applying the overall approach of: “Remove the worst, Promote the best, Improve the rest”.
What are you doing for the welfare of broiler chickens?
We pledge by 2024, we will strive to source all of the broiler chickens we use as ingredients for our U.S. food portfolio from sources meeting a higher standard of animal welfare, building on our global Commitment on Farm Animal Welfare. We’re committed to working with our U.S. suppliers to:
- Transition to breeds of chicken recognized as having improved welfare outcomes, including slower growth rates and better leg health, as approved by the Global Animal Partnership (GAP)
- Reduce stocking density to a maximum of 6 lbs./sq. foot.
- Improve the environment in which broiler chickens are kept in line with the new GAP standard, including access to natural light, improved litter, and enriched surroundings to help allow expression of natural behavior.
- Ensure broiler chickens are processed in a manner that avoids pre-stun handling, and instead use multi-step controlled atmospheric system that produces an irreversible stun.
- Show compliance with these standards through third-party audits and to report on progress.
Learn more about our broiler chicken commitment.
What is your position on cage-free eggs?
In 2016, Nestlé USA began implementing our policy to switch to using exclusively cage-free eggs in all our US food products. We are on-track and making progress to achieve our commitment by our target of the end of 2020.
What do you do if animal cruelty or abuse is found in your supply chain?
All of our suppliers must comply with our Responsible Sourcing Guideline, which includes animal welfare requirements. These requirements are non-negotiable. We promptly and thoroughly investigate such reports and take appropriate action in any instances that we find farm animal cruelty or abuse. This includes suspending or terminating our relationship with suppliers that violate the requirements in our RSG.
Our RSG complements our mandatory Nestlé Supplier Code, which requires our suppliers to meet all applicable laws and regulations on farm animal welfare and to communicate these requirements back to farms.