Wal-Mart is taking a public stand against the poor treatment of animals. They are urging their seafood, meat, dairy, and egg suppliers to reduce the drugs and antibiotics used for raising farm animals. Wal-Mart is the first retailer to take such a stand, and they are doing it in a big way with voluntary regulations.
For decades, farmers have been using antibiotics and hormone drugs to promote growth in their livestock and other animals. It’s a controversial practice because of the possible side effects noticed in humans. For instance, milk from cows that received hormone treatments transfers over to humans, causing immune system problems. There is concern that these antibiotics and drugs make humans more susceptible to disease and illness.
In addition to taking a stand against antibiotics and drugs, Wal-Mart is also asking their suppliers to treat animals better. Specifically, Wal-Mart does not want to see animals raised in gestation crates and other inhumane conditions. To prevent these problems, Wal-Mart is asking their 5,000+ suppliers to publicly disclose their antibiotics and animal treatment plans every year.
Wal-Mart hopes that their moves towards better animal treatment will have a ripple effect. They want other retailers, such as Vons and Costco, to make similar moves to improve the food supply chain all around. Consumers will benefit and the new guidelines could easily be picked up by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Back in 2013, the FDA did release guidelines for farmers to phase out antibiotics and growth hormone drugs, but the guidelines were voluntary. Wal-Mart will aim to only use suppliers who do so, which is further incentive for the nationwide move.
Senior VP of Sustainability at Walmart Kathleen McLaughlin said, “Our customers want to know more about how their food is grown and raised and where it comes from. As the nation’s largest grocer, Wal-Mart is committed to using our strengths to drive transparency and improvement across the supply chain.”