At Nestlé, New Animal Welfare Rules

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International New York Times

August 22, 2014

Copyright 2014 International Herald Tribune All Rights Reserved

Nestlé, one of the world's largest food companies, is adopting animal welfare standards that will affect 7,300 of its suppliers around the globe, and their suppliers.

The move is one of the broadest-reaching commitments to improving the quality of life for animals in the food system, and it is likely to have an impact on other companies that either share the same suppliers or compete with Nestlé.

''In the digital world, everyone has a smartphone, and they want to know where things come from and share that information,'' said Kevin Petrie, chief procurement officer for Nestlé in North America. ''Is it good for me? Is the quality good? Has it been responsibly sourced?''

The new policy, he said, was another step in Nestlé's efforts to address risks in its supply chains.

Consumers today know far more about how components in their food are made—and they are far more willing to share that knowledge to stir up a fuss on social media, Mr. Petrie said.

Under pressure from animal welfare groups, many well-known food companies and restaurant chains have given suppliers of meat, eggs and dairy products deadlines to eliminate practices that activists and some consumers consider harmful to animal well-being.

Burger King, for instance, has said that by 2015, all of the eggs it uses will come from hens living cage-free and that its pork will come only from producers that document their plans to eliminate gestation stalls over time.

McDonald's, General Mills, Quiznos and others have similar plans, in many cases giving their suppliers about 10 years, or roughly the replacement time for barns, to change their practices.

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.

Suppliers' compliance will be audited by SGS, a company that specializes in verification. Looking over SGS's shoulder will be World Animal Protection, an activist group.

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