Farm animal health and welfare in the supply chain

cows drinking

Nestlé recognises and shares concerns about the welfare of animals raised for food and the need to ensure sustainable animal production systems. Through our Supplier Code (pdf, 1,5Mb) and Responsible Sourcing Guideline (RSG) (pdf, 1,5Mb) we are helping to bring about positive change throughout our supply chains.

Our mandatory Nestlé Supplier Code requires each of our suppliers of animal-derived ingredients to meet all applicable laws and regulations on animal welfare, and to communicate this to their suppliers and to the farmers themselves. To further improve the health, care and welfare of the farm animals in our supply chain – and to meet the expectations of our consumers and stakeholders – we have published a Nestlé Commitment on Farm Animal Welfare (pdf, 1,5Mb).

We are committed to eliminating from our global supply chain specific practices that are not consistent with the internationally accepted Five Freedoms:

  • 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 behaviour.

We fully support the work of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in promoting the implementation of these Five Freedoms in the global supply chain.

Among the specific practices we have committed to eliminating are:

  • For cattle: dehorning; tail docking, disbudding and castration without anaesthetic 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 will also support the development and implementation of science-based international standards and guidelines by OIE.

  • As part of our commitment to improving animal welfare throughout our supply chain, in December 2015, Nestlé USA announced that it will switch to using exclusively cage-free eggs in all of its US food products by 2020. We are currently developing pilot projects with our suppliers and World Animal Protection to establish a roadmap for sourcing cage-free eggs in Europe and the rest of the world. Find out more: Nestlé To Use 100% Cage-Free Eggs For All U.S. Food Products By 2020

  • We aim for our suppliers to demonstrate continuous improvement in meeting our RSG. We have been working with a number of them to trace our animal-derived ingredients back to farm. This includes farm-level assessments conducted by an independent third-party audit firm, SGS, to make sure that our requirements on farm animal health, care and welfare are being met. Several hundred assessments have been carried out since 2014.

    The checklist which we use with our suppliers (pdf, 856Kb) is now available which includes questions on aspects including:

    • Transportation
    • Housing and husbandry
    • Slaughtering
    • Feeding
    • Health
  • In 2014, we entered into a partnership with the global NGO World Animal Protection, to help implement, refine and strengthen our Responsible Sourcing Guideline. World Animal Protection supports Nestlé through sharing its expertise on farm animal health, care and welfare, and training SGS auditors on animal health and welfare matters. Representatives from World Animal Protection have joined a number of supplier audits in different countries over the past two years and continue to do so, enabling them to promote good farm animal welfare practices and help highlight where improvements are required.

  • We are actively involved in an international, multi-stakeholder working group to develop an ISO technical specification (TS) on farm animal welfare management. The goal of the proposed TS is to improve the living conditions of animals bred and kept for food production, and to provide a management tool for the implementation of the animal welfare principles of the OIE's Terrestrial Animal Health Code. Nestlé representatives contribute to the ISO TS working group through the Swiss Association for Standardization (SNV) and SSAFE (Safe Supply of Affordable Food Everywhere), a public–private partnership dedicated to integrating food safety with animal and plant health. The draft technical specification was approved by a large majority and is expected to be published in December 2016.

  • In recent years, we have contributed to the stakeholder consultation process on the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW), a global measure of animal welfare standards in food companies supported by World Animal Protection and Compassion in World Farming. In 2015, Nestlé remained in the ‘Tier 3: Established but work to be done’ ranking, indicating that farm animal welfare is an ‘established’ part of our business, but that there are areas for improvement.

  • Use of performance enhancers in farm animals

    We do not support the use of veterinary medicines with performance enhancing effects in farm animals for the purposes of growth promotion. We believe that any use of such medicines for purely therapeutic purposes should only be carried out under veterinarian advice.

    Regulations and opinions on the use of performance enhancing medication vary significantly around the world. We will not advocate for the approval of performance enhancers in countries where they are not currently permitted for use.

    We are working with farmers and suppliers to promote good agricultural practices which increase yields and safeguard standards without the use of growth promoters.

    Antimicrobial Resistance

    The appropriate use of antimicrobials is essential for protecting human and animal health, and for ensuring correct standards of animal welfare. We share concerns over the emergence of anti-microbial resistance.

    As such, we oppose the use of antimicrobials for growth promotion in animals. We also oppose the use of antimicrobials categorised by the World Health Organization as “critically important” or “highly important” for human use, and which are not approved for veterinary use.

    To help address antimicrobial resistance, we endorse international efforts, including the tripartite (FAO-OIE-WHO) approach to promote the responsible use of antimicrobial agents, aimed at minimising the development of antimicrobial resistance.

    Alongside this, we continue to work with our suppliers to support practices and innovations that reduce the need to use antimicrobials in our supply chain, while maintaining correct levels of animal welfare.

  • Farm Animal Welfare is managed at a global level by our procurement team, reporting in to the Executive Director of Operations. A working group featuring representatives from different functions meets periodically to ensure the continuation of progress towards achieving our commitments.

    Regular meetings also take place with World Animal Protection and other external organisations.

  • We were honoured to receive a Henry Spira Corporate Progress Awards from the Humane Society of North America in 2014 for our work in implementing new policies on animal welfare.

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