Maintaining and improving animal welfare
Group Position Statement. Last updated: 1/08/2019
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, Central Europe, Thailand and Malaysia) for all of our Own Brand 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 Brand 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. This approach is based on and endorses the following Five Freedoms, proposed by Farm Animal Welfare Council (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 the use of GM ingredients in Own Brand products in all our businesses across all 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 Brand organic range of meat, eggs and milk are reared on non-GM feed. Click here for our full GM policy.
- Animals subject to cloning and/or their progeny or descendants are not allowed into our supply chain in any of our businesses across all geographies. This includes all meat, poultry and fin fish.
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 Group Quality Director who reports into the Executive Product Director.
Tesco is committed to the implementation of CCTV coverage of livestock handling, stun and slaughter throughout the global supply chain to Tesco. Currently this is in place in 100% of UK sites supplying our UK Tesco Stores business, over 90% of global sites supplying UK business, and we are working to achieve 100% across global sites. 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.
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 stores and One Stop in the UK, all supplying farms adhere to our robust Tesco Livestock Requirements. These species-specific standards are independently audited by Integra Food Secure Ltd. 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 eggs from caged hens by 2025 in our UK (including Booker), ROI and Central European businesses.
We’ve committed to stop sourcing eggs from caged hens by 2028 in our Thailand business, and we have set a goal of no longer sourcing eggs from caged hens in our Malaysia business by 2028 as well. We will reintroduce Tesco branded eggs to the Hong Kong market once we have a cage free product available.
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 routinely or as growth promoters in all of our businesses across all 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 in a veterinary health plan, which must be regularly reviewed by both the vet and farmer. 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.
We are actively working to reduce use of antibiotics in our supply chain through our supplier partnerships and sustainable farming groups. Going forward, targeted reduction strategies and sharing of best practice will help us achieve significant year on year reductions in antibiotic use in our supply chains.
We are part of the Food Industry Initiative on Antimicrobials which has the stated vision of ‘Retailers, manufacturers, processors and food service companies coming together to promote and support responsible antimicrobial use and action on antimicrobial resistance. The intention of this initiative is to support and engage with existing industry groups working in this area, ensuring work is aligned and avoiding duplication of effort. It has three key working groups on Responsible Use, Data and Research & Development.
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 on-line 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.
- 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.
Live animals and pet accessories
Where we sell live animals for human consumption such as carp, we apply standards to ensure high levels of animal welfare in store and at the point of slaughter. Slaughter is always carried out humanely using recognised methods by a trained member of staff.
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.
We do not sell exotic species (such as crocodile, ostrich, kangaroo) anywhere in our Group Business 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 continuously improve animal welfare outcomes.