Animal welfare

Group Position Statement. Last updated: 30/09/2020

Our policy

This policy covers both our food & non-food (as a by-product of food production) products across the Tesco Group (including Booker in the UK and our businesses in the UK, Ireland and Central Europe) for all of our own-label products.

Customers expect great products and also expect us to take animal welfare seriously when sourcing these products. We commit to continuous improvement in animal welfare within the markets in which we operate.

In 2019, Tesco was placed in Tier 2 of the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW). More information on this can be found on their website.

Our animal welfare policy applies to all our own-label products in all geographies and businesses. It covers animal testing, farmed animals used in food or non-food products and the sale of pets, other live animals and pet accessories.

We do not commission or carry out testing on animals for pharmaceutical, cosmetic or household products. Where animal testing is required by law for food safety purposes, we require that these are carried out in line with applicable regulation.

Our approach to animal welfare for farmed animals, pets and other live animals applies from breeding to rearing, transport and – where applicable – slaughter. No animal destined for any of our stores across all businesses and geographies (own-label products) will typically be transported overland for more than 8 hours, from farm to slaughter. Our approach is based on and endorses the following Five Freedoms, proposed by Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC):

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour
  • Freedom from fear and distress

To achieve these principles we work collaboratively with our suppliers, growers and farmers and fishermen, as well as researchers, vets and welfare NGOs to identify ways in which high standards of animal welfare can be assured in a manner that is achievable for our supply base. We will continuously review our frameworks, processes and guidance to develop our approach to animal welfare and support our farming and supply chain partners. In addition to the Five Freedoms we adopt the following overarching principles:

We do not allow products from farm animals subject to genetic engineering or cloning and/or their progeny or descendants in any of our products (own-label or branded) in any of our businesses or geographies. We do not prohibit the use of GM feed in the production of our non-organic meat, eggs and milk. We offer an organic range for those customers who prefer to avoid products from animals who may have had GM feed. Animals used to produce all our own-label organic range of meat, eggs and milk are reared on non-GM feed. Click here for our full GM policy.

At Executive Committee level, our Chief Product Officer has ultimate responsibility over our Responsible Sourcing agenda, of which animal welfare is a key part. The day to day governance and implementation of our animal welfare policy is overseen by our Group Quality Director who reports into the Chief Product Officer. Animal welfare forms part of ongoing discussions with suppliers on sourcing standards and requirements, with a view to continuously identifying potential to drive improvement.

CCTV

Tesco is committed to the implementation of CCTV coverage of livestock handling, stun and slaughter throughout the global supply chain to all Tesco businesses. Currently this is in place in 100% of UK sites supplying our Tesco UK business, 99% of global sites supplying UK business, and we are working to achieve 100% across global sites to include some system of image capture even in challenging environments e.g. aquaculture supply chains. Regular, documented review is a core component of the CCTV policy and review of historic images is used in our welfare audits. Booker were also the first wholesaler to require CCTV cameras in slaughterhouses in their supply chains.

All animals destined for our stores across all businesses and geographies (own-label and branded products), with the exception of a small number of designated and clearly labelled branded concessions subject to religious slaughter policies, are stunned before slaughter.

Farmed animals for food and non-food

Within our food business we aim for high animal welfare standards across all farming systems – from breeding and rearing through to transport and slaughter. For products sold in Tesco UK and One Stop, 100% of supplying farms adhere to our robust Tesco Welfare Approved (TWA) livestock requirements, in addition to recognised third-party assurance schemes. These species-specific standards are independently audited by Lloyd's Register. All farms supplying Tesco ROI meet independent third-party assurance schemes as a minimum. In markets where suppliers are working to legal requirements, we aim to work with our supply chain partners to drive improvements in standards along the supply chain.

Similarly, within our Tesco non-food business we will only procure animal products (e.g. feathers or leather), which are a by-product of the food industry, and have an ambition to only take from farms adhering to the same high standards we set our food business. We will take learnings from our work in the UK to inform our approach across the Group, in a way that is both stretching and achievable for our supplier base.

We’ve committed to stop sourcing shell eggs from caged hens by 2025 in our UK (including Booker), ROI and Central European businesses. This year we have made a further commitment to move to 100% cage free for products containing ingredient eggs within our Tesco UK and One Stop businesses.

Antibiotics

We recognise the importance of antibiotics in both human and animal medicine and the threat from improper use in livestock supply chains. It is for this reason that we make sure antibiotics are used responsibly. Our approach is to require our producers to use antibiotics as sparingly as possible without compromising animal welfare.

Antibiotics are not used prophylactically or as growth promoters in any of our products (own-label or branded) across any of our businesses or geographies. Where it is necessary to treat an animal, it must be done under veterinary supervision with the vet deciding which type of antibiotic is appropriate. All antibiotic usage must be recorded and fully traceable. The strategic principles for antibiotic use must be documented in a veterinary health plan, which must be regularly reviewed by both the vet and farmer. There is an expectation that management interventions such as vaccination are the principle preventative approaches ensuring good animal health. We make sure that Critically Important Antibiotics (CIA’s) for human health are only ever used as a last resort when other courses of action haven’t worked or where the disease is known to be non-responsive to any other antibiotic class (so called ‘sensitivity testing’).

Textiles

All leather, feather and wool products are a by-product of the food industry. When developing and sourcing a new product, colleagues must ensure that the following fundamental requirements are met:

  • Animal species included in the appendix I, II & III of The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) or on the International Union of Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red list above vulnerable status must not be sourced.
  • Fur must not be sourced or used on any Tesco product and any synthetic material used to look like fur must be clearly labelled as ‘Fake Fur’ or ‘Faux Fur’.
  • All natural products, such as leather, sold in store or online must be by-products of the food industry.
  • Karakul lambskin or astrakhan (fur of new-born or foetal lambs) must not be used.
  • Merino wool must only be sourced from farms using non-mulesing practices.
  • Feather and down obtained from the live plucking of birds must not be used.
  • Feather and down obtained from birds subject to gavage feeding must not be used.
  • Leather must be sourced from conventionally farmed animals such as cow, pig, sheep and goat.
  • Animals considered domestic, for example dogs, cats, fish, frogs and rabbits, or exotic, for example snake, ostrich and crocodile, must not be used.

Pet accessories

All pet accessories sold in our stores, such as collars or bowls, undergo rigorous testing to ensure that they are safe and comfortable for the animal. Instructions for use are clearly stated on the label.

Exotic species

We do not sell exotic species (such as crocodile, ostrich, kangaroo) in any of our businesses or geographies and use The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to define exotic.

As a global business operating across a number of markets, we are committed to reviewing our frameworks and processes, contributing to raising industry standards and supporting our farming and supply chain partners to monitor and continuously improve animal welfare outcomes.

See additional information on our UK animal welfare policy and animal health and welfare reporting.