Coming Soon: Food Industry Scorecard
HSUS Launches Initiative to Track Company Commitments
We’ve entered a new era characterized by animal welfare commitments. McDonald’s is one-third of the way to meeting its goal of using only cage-free eggs by 2025,1 a commitment that Walmart is working on as well in addition to other welfare supplier requirements, including on-farm video monitoring for sow farms.2 In 2018, Smithfield achieved its pledge to provide group housing systems for pregnant sows on all company-owned U.S. farms and in the spirit of transparency released a 360-degree virtual reality video that transports viewers to a company sow farm.3 Perdue charters its progress based on the Five Freedoms,4 a globally accepted standard for animal welfare.
Now, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is following up by measuring company progress through its new Food Industry Scorecard.5
In a blog post, HSUS says the scorecard is an opportunity to hold food companies accountable for the animal welfare promises they make – many with a shared deadline arriving soon: 2022 for eliminating gestation crates, 2024 for implementing better chicken-raising practices in the meat industry and 2025 for eliminating laying-hen cages6.
Merck Animal Health is committed to improving the health and well-being of animals and works closely with farmers and veterinarians as they continue to adopt best animal welfare practices that are grounded in science.
“Behind every promise or pledge is also a major capital expenditure commitment to transition to new housing formats – impacting the entire supply chain,” says Justin Welsh, DVM, executive director, food animal technical services for Merck Animal Health. “As companies take on these commitments, it’s important to use the best animal welfare science and engage credible third-party experts in the process to ensure any transitions are truly best for the animal.”
“It’s all of our responsibility to ensure appropriate shelter, disease prevention, veterinary care and treatment, and proper management for animals,” said Judson Vasconcelos, DVM, Ph.D., head of the Merck Animal Health Veterinary and Consumer Affairs team. “That’s why we believe it’s important to facilitate regular communication with food chain stakeholders to share updates, insights and science on the latest topics in animal welfare. It’s also why we host events like the Advancing Animal Welfare Together symposium to work with food chain partners to ensure transparency and trust with consumers.”
1 Bloomberg. Business. U.S. Egg Market Cracks After McDonald’s Pledges Cage-Free McMuffins. April 11, 2019. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-11/mcdonald-s-quest-for-sustainable-eggs-erodes-cage-free-s-premium. Accessed May 3, 2019.
2 Walmart. Walmart Policies and Guidelines. Cage-Free Egg Supply Position. 2019. https://corporate.walmart.com/policies. Accessed May 3, 2019.
3 Smithfield Foods. Newsroom. Press Releases and News. Smithfield Foods Achieves Industry-Leading Animal Care Commitment, Unveils New Virtual Reality Video of its Group Housing Systems. January 8, 2018. https://www.smithfieldfoods.com/newsroom/press-releases-and-news/smithfield-foods-achieves-industry-leading-animal-care-commitment-unveils-new-virtual-reality-video-of-its-group-housing-systems. Accessed May 3, 2019.4 Perdue. News. Blog. What are the Five Freedoms and why are they so important in animal care? June 26, 2017. https://www.perduefarms.com/news/blog/what-are-the-five-freedoms-and-why-are-they-so-important-in-animal-care/. Accessed May 3, 2019.
5 Welshans, K. HSUS scorecard to measure corporate animal welfare commitments. Feedstuffs. March 15, 2019. https://www.feedstuffs.com/news/hsus-scorecard-measure-corporate-animal-welfare-commitments. Accessed May 3, 2019.
6 The Humane Society of the United States. A Humane World. Kitty Block’s Blog. With new scorecard, HSUS will hold food companies accountable on their animal welfare commitments. March 13, 2019. https://blog.humanesociety.org/2019/03/with-new-scorecard-hsus-will-hold-food-companies-accountable-on-cage-free-timelines.html. Accessed May 3, 2019.