Nestlé makes sweeping changes to animal welfare policy

All suppliers of company’s animal-derived products will have to comply with tougher standards

Nestlé, one of the world’s largest food companies, has signed a partnership agreement with World Animal Protection, requiring all 7,300 of the company’s suppliers of animal-derived products to comply with the organization’s tougher animal welfare standards.

Nestlé cut ties last year with Wiese Brothers Farm in Greenleaf, Wisconsin, after Mercy for Animals conducted an undercover investigation in which an employee took secretly recorded video of employees beating and stabbing cows and dragging them with farm equipment. Wiese Brothers had supplied milk for Nestlé’s pizza division.

“Mercy For Animals praises Nestlé for stepping up to the plate to improve the lives of farmed animals on a global level,” said Nathan Runkle, president of Mercy For Animals, in a report. “We are heartened that Nestlé not only took notice, but also took action, after egregious cruelty was exposed at one of its dairy suppliers.”

Runkle said Nestle’s new policy is the most sweeping animal welfare policy ever adopted by a major food distributor.

In a blog written by Wayne Pacelle, president/CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, commending Nestlé’s move, he states: “ … this announcement marks the most comprehensive and ambitious animal welfare program by a global food retailer to date.”

The new program will eliminate standard practices from Nestlé’s supply chain that are controversial, including:

  • Confinement of sows in gestation crates
  • Confinement of calves in veal crates
  • Confinement of layers in cages
  • Forced rapid growth of chickens used for meat products
  • Cutting of horns, tails and genitals of farm animals without painkillers

Nestlé said it has commissioned an independent auditor, SGS, to ensure the new standards of animal welfare are met by its suppliers. Some checks also will be conducted by World Animal Protection. Nestlé said it will not work with suppliers who are not willing to meet the new standards.

Nestlé brands include Jack’s, DiGiorno and Tombstone pizza, Hot Pockets and Lean Cuisine.