The world's largest food company said Wednesday that it would improve the welfare of farm animals in its supply chain in 90 countries, a pledge that an animal rights group called the "most comprehensive and far reaching animal welfare policy of its kind."
On Wednesday, Nestlé announced that farms across the globe that supply the company with dairy, meat, poultry and eggs must now comply with the tighter welfare standards. Nestlé has 7,300 suppliers and each of those suppliers buys from other companies, meaning the standards apply to hundreds of thousands of businesses.
"We know that our consumers care about the welfare of farm animals and we, as a company, are committed to ensuring the highest possible levels of farm animal welfare across our global supply chain," said Benjamin Ware, the company's manager of responsible sourcing.
In December, a frozen pizza company owned by Nestlé said it would no longer accept milk from a Wisconsin dairy farm after NBC News showed the company undercover video shot by the animal rights group Mercy for Animals of farm workers kicking, beating and stabbing cows and dragging the animals with ropes.
Mercy for Animals applauded Nestlé's announcement Wednesday for its commitment to improving animal welfare across its global supply chain, calling it "comprehensive and far reaching" in a press release.
"Mercy for Animals praises Nestlé for stepping up to the plate to improve the lives of farmed animals on a global level," said MFA executive director Nathan Runkle. "Nestlé's new industry-leading policy will reduce the suffering of millions of animals each year and hopefully inspire other food providers to implement and enforce similar animal welfare requirements."
Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle also lauded Nestlé's pledge, and said it was the latest in a series of actions by major food retailers to improve welfare standards.
Nestlé worked with World Animal Protection, a non-profit group, to tighten its sourcing guidelines. The guidelines now include spacing requirements for the rearing pens of certain animals, such as pigs and cows, "to ensure they are not cramped and can engage in normal animal behaviour," according to a company press release. The guidelines also seek to minimize pain for the animals, and will phase out such practices as tail docking and the castration of piglets without painkillers.