We believe animals deserve a good quality of life and should be treated humanely.
Kraft Heinz believes that animals deserve a good quality of life and to be treated humanely. We have an unwavering commitment to the care of animals in our supply chain. Although we neither own nor manage farms, we align with our suppliers in requiring their animals be treated with care, understanding and respect.
Kraft Heinz believes that good animal welfare includes three elements which guide our animal welfare policies and initiatives:
- Health and Productivity: healthy animals that are provided with quality shelter, feed, and water
- Emotional Well-Being: healthy animals that are provided with quality shelter, feed, and water
- Naturalness: healthy animals that are provided with quality shelter, feed, and water
Our Advisory Committee of Experts
In 2019, we established an advisory committee composed of livestock, poultry, aquaculture, and fisheries welfare experts. This committee provides guidance on science and best practices, animal welfare assessment, and emerging topics in animal welfare. Our animal welfare specialist provides training on farm animal production and welfare to cross-functional team members within the company. Externally, our specialist serves on the animal welfare committees of the North American Meat Institute and the National Turkey Federation.
This concept of animal welfare builds upon the internationally recognized “Five Freedoms” of animal welfare which include the fundamental principles of 1) freedom from hunger and thirst; 2) freedom from physical and thermal discomfort; 3) freedom from pain, injury or disease; 4) freedom to express normal behaviors; and 5) freedom from fear and distress.
We support housing designs that support an animal’s ability to perform species- specific behaviors. Examples include, but are not limited to, cage-free housing with perches and nest boxes for laying hens and group housing for gestating sows. When painful procedures need to be performed, we encourage pain mitigation, such as the use of anesthetics or analgesics. Kraft Heinz expects its suppliers to implement practices and pursue continuous improvement consistent with the Five Freedoms and good animal welfare.
Kraft Heinz believes animals deserve to be treated humanely. At the same time, public interest in farming and animal care is continually increasing and consumers desire farming practices that match their values and expectations. Good animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and healthy people form aninterconnected system, and well-managed farms reduce waste and provide a safe, nutritious food supply. Knowing this, we integrate science and societal ethics in our animal welfare decisions. Kraft Heinz is transparent about our supply practices and progress. These are disclosed via our Global Animal Welfare Policy, website and through our ESG reports.
Our animal welfare policy applies to the entire global company and all its business units that use animals or animal products. A Global Steering Group monitors compliance to this policy and reviews it biennially to ensure it remains consistent with current science, best production practices, and societal values.
Our Supply Partners
Our suppliers are our partners in humane animal care and its continuous improvement. We expect suppliers to maintain strict standards of animal care and raise animals in accordance with the laws and ordinances in their locale. We require our suppliers to have a zero-tolerance policy for animal abuse and neglect, and to train all individuals working with or around live animals on the policy. In addition to the animal welfare policy, animal welfare expectations are delineated in the Kraft Heinz Ingredient Supplier Quality Expectations Manual and product specifications. When evidence of non-compliance exists, Kraft Heinz may suspend the supplier until corrective actions have been implemented. Suppliers who do not align with the requirements or do not make continuous and positive improvements to meet them risk losing Kraft Heinz as a customer.
Animal Health & Management
The ability to engage in normal behaviors such as walking, nesting, and dust- bathing is important to laying hen welfare, which is why we support housing such as cage-free housing with perches and nest boxes. In Europe, we have committed to switch to exclusively purchasing free-range eggs by the end of 2020 and we remain on track to complete that transition on-time. In 2019, 39% of our European egg supply came from free-range farms. The remainder of our European supply came from hens housed in enriched colonies. Throughout the rest of the world, we are transitioning to purchasing only cage-free eggs by 2025. Globally, our supply of eggs and products is 70 percent cage-free or free-range.
We aim to procure 100% Free-range eggs in Europe by 2020 and 100% Cage-free eggs globally by 2025.
In accordance with the three elements of animal welfare, we believe that pregnant sows should be safely housed in social groups with enough space to perform normal behaviors. Kraft Heinz is working with our pork suppliers to transition pregnant sows from conventional gestation stall housing to alternative gestation housing. In 2019, 16 percent of our global and 100 percent of our European pork supply came from sows housed in alternative gestation systems.
We have committed to improving broiler welfare by 2024. We continue to incorporate leading science into our assessment of broiler welfare, while we engage with the industry at-large as it redefines its guidelines for enhanced broiler welfare. We continue to evaluate the efficacy of our United States supply partners in meeting the following enhanced broiler chicken welfare standards:
- Source breeds that exhibit measurably improved welfare and are approved by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) or Global Animal Partnership (GAP)
- More living space per bird with a stocking density no greater than 6 pounds per square foot
- Better quality environments with litter, lighting, and meaningful enrichments that align with GAP standards
- Multi-step, controlled-atmosphere stunning that minimizes handling and avoids inverting conscious birds
- Supplier verification or third-party auditing to demonstrate compliance and regular reporting on our progress
European Chicken Commitment: In late 2019, The Kraft Heinz Company expanded its animal welfare commitments to improving chicken welfare by 2026 as part of the European Chicken Commitment. Kraft Heinz continues to assess and work to transition its European supply chain accordingly, and looks forward to future updates on progress.
North America: We require our U.S. suppliers to follow the National Milk Producers Federation’s Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Animal Care guidelines. This program establishes best on-farm animal management practices and includes second-party evaluations and third-party verification. Most of our dairy supply comes from U.S. farms. Our Canadian suppliers follow the National Farm Animal Care Council’s Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle. Third-party audits are required to ensure that the U.S. and Canadian programs’ guidelines are followed.
India: Dairy farming is an important occupation in Uttar Pradesh, North India. In many villages, farmers do not have access to qualified veterinarians or government programs to support their work or animals. Between 2015 – 2018, Kraft Heinz provided an animal health and education program to the 3,000 milk farmers in 30 villages surrounding our Aligarh factory (ending when we divested the factory). The program consisted of three elements:
- Farmer education on disease prevention, animal health and care, and milk safety
- Quarterly deworming of animals
- Annual vaccination of animals
Through this program Kraft Heinz has improved the lives of farmers, their families, and the animals in their care.
Eliminate Painful Procedures
We are working with farmers and the industry to develop and adopt practical alternatives that eliminate painful procedures. When painful procedures need to be performed, we encourage pain mitigation, such as the use of anesthetics or analgesics. We expect our suppliers to adhere to industry guidelines, which were developed to provide safe, quality products while keeping both animals and humans safe.
We believe animals should be provided a respectful and humane death. Compromised animals must be euthanized in a timely manner that aligns with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) or World Organisation for Animal Health’s (OIE) guidelines. Similarly, slaughter should also align with these guidelines. Efficient stunning prior to slaughter is important for animal welfare. One hundred percent of our U.S. Oscar Mayer product suppliers report that they comply with our product specifications which require an annual 3rd party humane slaughter audit and weekly internal animal welfare audit
Disease prevention strategies such as husbandry, hygiene, and vaccinations must be the primary defenses against animal disease. However, even with excellent care farm animals sometimes become ill. When this occurs, antimicrobial treatment (including antibiotics) can be an important component of humane animal care. Therapeutic antimicrobials should only be used after careful review by a veterinarian and treatment limited to ill and at-risk animals, treating the fewest animals possible. Alongside good farm management, responsible antimicrobial use can help enhance food quality and safety.
In the United States, where the majority of Kraft Heinz meat ingredients are purchased, we require our suppliers to meet or exceed the AVMA or OIE guidelines for the judicious use of antimicrobial agents. Our meat and dairy products meet or exceed government regulations related to the use and administration of antimicrobials, including compliance with bans on antibiotics for growth promotion.
In some countries, such as the United States and Canada, certain growth hormones are approved for use in beef cattle, and we do not restrict their use in those instances. While studies conclude hormone supplements in cattle are safe for animals and for humans, we support ongoing efforts to further demonstrate the safety and usefulness of supplemental hormones. No hormones are approved for growth promotion in dairy cattle, veal calves, pigs, or poultry and no growth hormones are used in our animal supply chain.
Governmental regulation of recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) for dairy production varies between countries. Where rbST is approved, we do not restrict its use. However, we support industry initiatives to eliminate rBST from the supply. Since early 2019, most of our Kraft Natural Cheese products have been made with milk from cows that were not treated with rBST.
Testing of Food Ingredients
Kraft Heinz does not support or condone the use of animals for research that is not essential to food safety, and we do not maintain any testing facilities. When required by governmental agencies, ingredient safety testing is completed by accredited third-party facilities following appropriate animal welfare guidelines. We do not support unnecessary testing and are advocates for replacing animal testing with other validated research methods.
Animal Welfare Risk Assessments
Annually, all U.S.-based Kraft Heinz suppliers of animal and animal-derived products are required to complete an animal welfare risk assessment. The assessment was developed by a cross-functional internal panel that included animal welfare, procurement and quality team members and was reviewed by an external team of animal welfare scientists. The assessments review suppliers’ strengths and weaknesses on animal welfare policies, personnel training, transportation, stunning methods and auditing. Kraft Heinz’s animal welfare team works with lower-performing suppliers, which make up a small percentage of our total supply chain. Together they create action plans to develop policies and procedures that improve animal welfare. Low performing suppliers unwilling or unable to improve animal welfare may jeopardize their status as Kraft Heinz suppliers. We look forward to expanding assessment requirements to all suppliers globally for the first time in 2020.