Endorsed October 24, 2017

The food wholesale and retail industry cares deeply about the humane treatment of animals in the food supply chain.

Animal protein provides an important source of safe, affordable and healthy nutrition for millions of Americans. Producers and retailers have a responsibility to guarantee that the animals in our supply chain are raised, handled and processed in a humane, responsible and scientifically-sound manner that respects both the physical and mental well-being of the food animals on which we depend. Cruelty and mistreatment have no place in our supply chains and will not be tolerated.

In 2012, the Food Marketing Institute’s Board of Directors adopted a policy for the treatment of food animals (available on the FMI website) that committed the industry, “to simultaneously and scientifically assess the impacts of animal care and handling practices on animal well-being, food safety and food quality.” This policy included a call to work cooperatively with other food and agriculture associations to promote best practices for the treatment of farm animals and to encourage local, state and the federal government to oversee the strict enforcement of animal welfare laws.

Food wholesalers and retailers also work closely with the supplier community to make sure that our policies reflect current science and adapt when changes are necessary. Animal welfare is a shared responsibility and every link in the supply chain has an important role to play. Each company must, of course, make individual decisions about policies that reflect their values and best serve their consumers, but the retail industry remains committed to:

  • A process of ongoing and continuous engagement on issues surrounding the treatment of animals. Welfare policies are very much ‘living documents’ that need to be reexamined and updated on a regular basis to reflect the best current science.
  • Engaging with and supporting researchers and scientists who are working to make progress in the field. Ultimately, the decisions we make about animal welfare policies need to be based on sound science and careful research that reflects the views of experts and the needs of the supply chain.
  • Working with consumers to make sure that they understand the animal welfare policies developed by the industry and to ensure that these policies reflect their values and concerns. The role of the consumer is at the center of the industry’s efforts and the need to provide them with safe, nutritious and affordable food choices our central mission.
  • Approaching our policies using a broad and holistic approach that takes into account issues surrounding affordability, sustainability and availability.
  • Auditing our supply chains to guarantee the policies we set in coordination with our suppliers are carried out and to provide transparency around these efforts.

Just as each species is unique, the standards and approaches that are applied to specific animals need to be adapted to reflect the unique needs of the animals. To suggest that there is only one fixed standard that should be adopted universally is monopolistic thinking and certainly not in the best interest of the animals or consumers. The treatment of animals in the supply chain is an ever-evolving process that must reflect changes in science, ethics and consumer expectations. Animal welfare standards must be based on sound science backed by veterinarians and credentialed animal welfare experts and must receive periodic scientific review to ensure these policies reflect the best thinking in the field of animal welfare.