Releasing a new set of animal welfare standards, Walmart last week said it would work with its supply chain to improve reporting on humane treatment of farm animals and phase out the use of antibiotics in animals for growth promotion.
Specifically, the plan details that Walmart's suppliers will be asked 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; and promote transparency by providing progress reports to Walmart and publicly reporting against their own corporate animal welfare position on annual basis.
On antibiotics, Walmart said it believes that antibiotics should be "used responsibly in farm animals." It is asking suppliers to use the American Veterinary Medical Association's Judicious Use Principles of Antimicrobial Use and keep accurate records; adopt FDA's Guidance 209 regarding uses of antibiotics in animals; and provide 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. "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."
In response to the announcement, Smithfield Foods said it supports Walmart's plan. Smithfield is already compliant with the policies on its company-owned farms, where it ceased using human-grade antibiotics for growth promotion in its pigs on company-owned and contract farms more than two years ago.
"We understand that potential antibiotic resistance is a public health concern, and that's why we are leading the pork industry in ensuring the responsible use of antibiotics within our operations," said C. Larry Pope, Smithfield's president and chief executive officer.
"We've accepted our role as the world's largest pork producer and have led the charge by addressing challenging issues facing the industry while improving our sustainability program and processes to meet the ever-changing needs and demands of our customers and consumers," Pope said.