BUSINESS

Wal-Mart urges suppliers to curb antibiotics, treat animals better

Wal-Mart's move to curb antibiotics use in animals was prompted by customer feedback

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is asking its U.S. suppliers to follow new guidelines on animal treatment and antibiotics, making it the latest in a string of companies to curb the use of antibiotics in animals.

The Bentonville, Ark., company said Friday that the move, prompted by customer feedback, will give consumers more information about their food.

“We believe it’s important to promote transparency in this process, helping to put our customers in charge of their food choices by providing clear, accurate information about food ingredients,” Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Walmart Foundation and senior vice president of Walmart Sustainability, said in a statement.

Wal-Mart said it is asking its suppliers to report cases of animal abuse and to discipline workers accordingly. The company also said it has asked suppliers to find housing solutions that give animals more space, and to address concerns about painful procedures, euthanasia and slaughter.

Wal-Mart's announcement follows similar news from companies including Tyson Foods Inc., McDonald's Corp. and Chick-Fil-A Inc., all of which said they were eliminating the use of human antibiotics in the face of mounting pressure from consumer groups.

In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration issued a voluntary order to livestock and poultry producers to limit their use of antibiotics to induce faster growth in their animals and to treat sick animals. Farms consume about 80% of the nation's antibiotic supply, resulting in the growth of drug-resistant superbugs, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Suppliers will be asked to provide progress reports on animal welfare and antibiotics use to Wal-Mart.

The guidelines will also apply to Sam's Club's U.S. suppliers, and are part of the company's previously announced sustainability initiative. 

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