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Good food starts with good ingredients - and the best ingredients come from the best farmers. That's why we only work with producers who share our commitment to animal welfare.

Producers who, like us, believe in making sure that all farm animals are well treated during every stage of their lives: on the farm, during transportation and at the abattoir. To do this, we’ve developed proactive policies and specifications using the Farm Animal Welfare Committee’s Five Freedoms as a framework. The Five Freedoms are:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst – by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.

  2. Freedom from discomfort – by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.

  3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease – by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.

  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour – 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 which avoid mental suffering.

guinea 1Using these statements as a base, we’ve developed our own detailed standards for the rearing of livestock used in our foods. We use our independent Animal Welfare Advisory Group to make sure our leading standards are met and maintained. We also have a farm assurance scheme to address our customers’ demands on food safety, animal welfare and animal health (and we were the first retailer to pioneer a scheme of this kind.) On a day-to-day basis, we continue to work with leading organisations including the RSPCA, Compassion in World Farming and the Humane Slaughter Association to research and progress our animal welfare standards. As we learn more, we’re committed to sharing best practices with everyone involved in the production of our food.

You can see how our ongoing commitment to animal welfare impacts on our food by the products on our shelves:

  • We’re the only major food retailer to sell and use only free range eggs in 100% of our products, from fresh eggs to prepared foods that use egg as an ingredient.

  • Our fresh whole turkey and ducks are produced to higher welfare standards and our geese are free range.

  • All our fresh pork is either outdoor bred or free range and we’re working towards phasing out the use of farrowing crates for pork used as an ingredient in our prepared meals.

  • We insist that all our fresh chicken is slower growing, given increased space, natural daylight and has environmental enrichment.

  • We have banned production systems that can’t fulfil an animal’s welfare needs i.e. battery cages, the forced feeding of geese and ducks for foie gras, the rearing of calves for white veal, the use of the sow stall and tether system for pork production.

  • We don’t allow the use of specific breeds of animal which due to their genetics inherently cause welfare issues i.e. double muscled beef breeds, Barbary duck.

  • We refuse to sell meat and by-products from exotic species such as bison, crocodile, kangaroo, frogs legs.

  • We’ve had a sustainable fishing policy for over a decade - and from April 2012, all our wild fish has come from the most sustainable sources available; either certified, undergoing assessment or taking part in a credible improvement programme, in line with our Wild Fish Plan A commitment.

Of course, it’s the person who is responsible for the daily care and supervision of the livestock who can do the most to ensure that the animal’s welfare is safeguarded. To this end, we’ll only work with farmers who share our philosophy and agree to implement and maintain our animal welfare standards.

Working together, we can make sure that the animals involved in our food production have healthy lives and are treated with the respect they deserve.