Walmart announces new policies for livestock producers

by Lawrence Aylward
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Mother and daughter shopping in frozen food aisle at Walmart
Walmart says its customers want to know more about how their food is grown, raised and where it comes from.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart US and Sam’s Club US are urging its suppliers to adopt new rules when it comes to animal welfare and antibiotic use. While Walmart, the nation’s biggest retailer, isn’t mandating the new rules, the company said it will not tolerate animal abuse.

The company announced on May 22, new positions around animal welfare and the responsible use of antibiotics in farm animals. Regarding animal welfare, Walmart stated it believes animals should be treated humanely throughout their lives. As part of its animal welfare position statement, Walmart said it will not tolerate animal abuse, 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. Walmart said is encouraging 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.

Regarding the use of antibiotics in the production of livestock in its supply chain, Walmart said it believes that antibiotics should be used responsibly in farm animals. 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.

“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.”

Last October, 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. By releasing its new antibiotic and animal welfare positions today, Walmart said it continues to build on this important commitment.

“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,” McLaughlin said. “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.”

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