The cause of animal welfare is certainly making political progress. Around the world governments are moving to restrict testing of cosmetics on animals and now the major food producer Nestlé is promising to enforce new animal welfare standards on its suppliers which could affect “hundreds of thousands of farms around the world”.
The Swiss headquartered company has entered into an agreement with the NGO World Animal Protection (previously known as WSPA – World Society for the Protection of Animals) to ensure that supply Nestlé of its dairy, meat, poultry and eggs complies with tighter animal welfare standards.
Nestlé says it has some 7,300 suppliers from whom it buys animal-derived products directly – everything from milk for its range of yoghurts and ice-creams, to meat for its chilled foods and eggs for its fresh pastry and pasta. Each of these suppliers, in turn, buys from others, meaning that Nestlé’s Responsible Sourcing Guidelines apply to literally hundreds of thousands of farms around the world.The company has nine factories in Australia, including Tongala, Broadford and Wahgunyah in regional Victoria.
Under its new standards, Nestlé will not buy products derived from pigs raised in gestation stalls, chickens in barren battery cages, cattle that have been dehorned or had their tails docked without anesthesia and animals whose health has been damaged by drugs that promote growth.
In a statement announcing the new policy the company said it has commissioned an independent auditor, SGS, to carry out checks to ensure the new standards of animal welfare are met on its supplying farms. In 2014, several hundred farm assessments have already been carried out worldwide. Some of these checks are also attended, unannounced, by World Animal Protection representatives whose role is to verify the auditors. When a violation is identified, Nestlé will work with the supplier to improve the treatment of farm animals to ensure they meet the required standards. If, despite engagement and guidance from Nestlé, the company is unable or unwilling to show improvement, it will no longer supply Nestlé.