The five freedoms, established by the British Farm Animal Welfare Council, define ideal conditions for the livestock industry, and include:
1. Freedom from hunger or thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.
2. Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
3. Freedom from pain, injury, or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
4. Freedom to express normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities, and company of the animal's own kind.
5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment that avoid mental suffering.
To uphold these principles, Walmart will work with suppliers to ensure that animals have access to food and water, adequate shelter and resting areas, preventative measures against disease or rapid treatment, and adequate space for living and socializing. Walmart has also said it will not tolerate any animal abuse.
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In addition to asking suppliers to uphold these five freedoms, Walmart is targeting some especially troubling practices, including confined spaces (like gestation crates, veal crates, and hen battery cages); tail docking, dehorning, or castration without pain management; and painful slaughter. The company is also asking suppliers to increase transparency to ensure that these changes happen. While there's no official mandate or timeline for Walmart's suppliers, given Walmart's size and clout, we're optimistic that this could have industry-wide impacts.
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Walmart is joining the ranks of several other huge food companies to make an announcement that could have major implications for the rest of the food industry. For instance, when McDonald's announced that it would no longer sell chicken produced with medically important antibiotics, Tyson soon after declared that it would stop using human antibiotics in its chicken production. Aramark, a major food-service company, has also recently announced that it will be implementing more humane measures in its food production.
This article was originally published on Rodale News.