May 26, 2015

 

Wal-Mart asks meat suppliers to curb antibiotic use

 

 

The US' largest food retailer, Wal-Mart, has served notice to its suppliers in the country that it wants them to stop using antibiotics to fatten their animals.

 

The move, believed to be the first taken by a major retailer, came as an apparent response to consumers' desire to know where their food comes from and the growing trend of shoppers who prefer foods that are more healthy or natural.

 

An Associated Press (AP) report said Wal-Mart has also asked its suppliers to stop using sow gestation crates and other cramped housing, as well as painful procedures including de-horning and castration without proper pain management.

 

Earlier activists had reported animal abuse at farms supplying Wal-Mart and other major retailers.

 

While Wal-Mart is not putting deadlines on suppliers and the steps aren't mandatory, the store chain's huge influence cannot be taken lightly, as changes it pushes can affect products it sells, according to the AP.

 

Examples cited are when Wal-Mart asked its suppliers to reduce packaging about a decade ago, spurring innovations in the consumer products industry; and when Procter & Gamble introduced tubes of Crest toothpaste that could be featured upright on shelves without boxes.

 

Wal-Mart's move was hailed by various sectors. Dr. Gail Hansen, a senior officer of Pew Charitable Trusts' antibiotic resistance project, called the retailer's move to curb antibiotic use a "big deal."

 

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, called it "game-changing progress and signals to agribusiness that the era of confining farm animals is ending."

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