Wal-Mart, the largest food retailer in the US, is asking its thousands of suppliers to improve the treatment of farm animals and asking them to stop using antibiotics, according to a report from the Associated Press.
Experts say Wal-Mart is the first major retail company to take the step to reduce antibiotic use in animals. But the retailer has not put a timetable in place for suppliers and is not requiring that they follow these guidelines.
“We think what's needed is a fresh look at how we can look at producing food. This is an industry-wide change. It won't happen overnight,” Kathleen McLaughlin, senior vice president of Wal-Mart's sustainability division, told the AP. “It's about transparency. We don't know a lot about who was using what for what reason.”
Wal-Mart has asked egg and milk suppliers, and meat producers to use antibiotics only for disease prevention or treatment, not to make animals gain weight. The new guidelines also ask suppliers to stop confining animals in small crates and to avoid procedures like de-horning and castration without proper pain management, according to the AP.
The company reported that its own research showed that 77 per cent of shoppers said this step would increase their trust and 66 per cent said it would increase their likelihood of shopping at a retailer that improves treatment of animals.
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