Global megastore Walmart announced last week that it will work toward requiring all of its meat, dairy, and egg suppliers to adopt the “five freedoms” principles for the treatment of farmed animals. This means that the supermarket chain—which is responsible for one-quarter of all US grocery sales—will eventually no longer sell pork from pigs raised in gestation crates, eggs from battery-caged hens, and meat from baby calves raised in veal crates. Walmart will also ultimately require its suppliers to phase out painful mutilations like tail docking, dehorning, castration, and to adopt less painful slaughter methods. The changes will apply to all US stores as well as the company’s Sam’s Club subsidiary. While Walmart hasn’t yet announced a timeline for the new policies, its commitment to these reforms signals a significant shift in corporate America’s response to consumer demand for more humane treatment of farm animals. And with Walmart taking the lead on this important ethical issue, more companies are sure to follow.
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