Animal Welfare policy

Animal Welfare

Group Position Statement. Last updated: 01/08/2016

Our policy

Food & non-food (as a by-product of food production)

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.

Our animal welfare policy applies to all our own-brand products. 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):

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst
  2. Freedom from discomfort
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour
  5. 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 Tesco branded products. 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

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 the Animal Welfare Steering Group, which meets monthly and includes representatives from across our UK and global business.

Animal testing

We do not carry out, commission or fund testing on animals for consumer products. Where animal testing is required by law e.g. for new medicines, we require suppliers to minimise reliance on animal trials and adopt the highest ethical and welfare standards. This applies across the Group.

For ingredients in our own-brand cosmetic or household products, we set a fixed cut-off date of 31 December 2007 and do not sell any such products made with ingredients tested on animals after this date. We have robust systems in place to ensure that these cut-off dates have been met by all our own brand suppliers.

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 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 up the supply chain.

Similarly, within our 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 recognise the importance of antibiotics in human and animal medicine and the risk of their improper use. Our approach is to encourage our producers to optimise welfare, health, hygiene, husbandry and biosecurity of animals and avoid the need to use antibiotic treatment unless the welfare of an animal is compromised. This approach is based upon guidelines issued by the Responsible use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance which we are members of. RUMA defines the responsible use of antibiotics on farms as using antibiotics as little as possible and as much as necessary. Every veterinary medication must be approved for use and strict withdrawal times are applied to ensure the medicine does not enter the food chain.


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

Outside of the UK and where a cultural norm in international markets we may sell live animals for human consumption such as carp. In this instance 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.

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.


Successes achieved since we first launched our animal welfare policy include committing to stop sourcing eggs from caged hens by 2025 for UK, training colleagues in animal welfare and compliance to the policy, removal of 100% of own brand foie gras from our stores worldwide, consulting with welfare NGO's such as CIWF and RSPCA, providing financial support for our farmers in the Tesco Slovakia supply chain to undertake research into animal welfare. We have committed to remove rabbit meat from our UK own label pet food and have stopped adding this ingredient to all pet food products.

For more information contact our corporate responsibility team -

See additional information on our UK animal welfare