GLOBAL - Global food processing giant, Heinz, has joined a growing line of major meat and food processors to strengthen their animal welfare practices for their supply chain.
The new policies, part of the company’s sustainable procurement policy, sees the company working with suppliers worldwide to reduce the use of battery cages for laying hens.
The company said that by the end of 2015 20 per cent of the eggs they use will be from cage free operations in the US.
The company had worked with the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society International to introduce the new policy.
In its welfare statement, Heinz said that while it is not a major user of eggs and has little to no influence on the costs of egg prices either in the US or globally the company has made a commitment to source our eggs from cage-free chickens as suppliers meet our growing request for this ingredient.
"Specifically, in the UK, we use free-range eggs in Heinz Mayonnaise," Heinz said.
"Across all Heinz businesses, we continue to work with our egg suppliers to review and further understand the options and capabilities in cage-free sourcing going forward.
"We ask stakeholders to work with major egg suppliers and users to bring down the costs of cage-free eggs, which today are significantly higher than those of caged eggs."
The food processor has also made a commitment to phase out gestation crates among its suppliers of pig meat.
The company said: "Heinz applauds and supports industry efforts to move away from using gestation crates for pregnant sows.
"The Company is currently working with its pork suppliers to understand and document their plans to reduce or end the use of gestational crates.
This information is used to inform the Company’s choice of suppliers now and in the future, in an effort to increase the Company’s use of pork from crate-free sources.
Heinz said that it realises that many consumers have concerns about animal welfare and we take these concerns seriously.
"First and foremost, no Heinz products are tested on animals. Secondly, Heinz suppliers are required to have implemented validated Animal Welfare Programmes to prevent the abuse of animals," the company said.
"These Animal Welfare Programmes are to be compliant to the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA), the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act. Heinz requires written confirmation of compliance to these Animal Welfare Programmes."
The company said that it requires formal Animal Welfare Assurance programmes at each of our supplier locations validated through audits and a target training program to preserve the health and well-being of the animals and food safety of the finished products.
The basis of the Heinz animal welfare programme is the principle of the Five Freedoms for animal welfare:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst;
- Freedom from discomfort;
- Freedom from pain, injury and disease;
- Freedom to express normal behaviour; and
- Freedom from fear and distress.
These five principles have also been adopted by another global meat and food processing giant, Nestlé.
Elissa Lane, deputy director of the Department of Production Animal Humane Society International said: "We welcome the commitment of Heinz to phase out animal confinement within agribusiness in its supply chain in North America.
"We look forward to working with food companies with similar policies in the country and the region."
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