The latest thunderbolt on the farm animal protection front comes from Compass Group, the world’s largest food service company. Compass Group USA is embracing the Five Freedoms for Animal Welfare for its procurement practices, building on similar declarations made earlier this year by Walmart, Aramark, and General Mills – among the biggest names in the global food retail sector.
For Compass Group USA, this policy upgrades an already strong animal welfare policy, which calls for switching to cage-free for all of its eggs (350 million per year) and eliminating gestation crates from its supply chain, with deadlines for supplier compliance on both issues. The company’s embrace of the Five Freedoms means that all of the animals in its supply chain will benefit. (The Five Freedoms include freedom from hunger, thirst, and malnutrition; discomfort; pain, injury, and disease; to express normal behavior; and from fear and distress.)
In practical terms, the company is eliminating veal from operations using crates by 2017, and is working with its suppliers to address issues with dehorning and tail docking of dairy cows, castration and tail docking of piglets, castration and disbudding of beef cattle, and the issues surrounding fast growth and poor living conditions for broiler chickens and turkeys. The company is taking another step by committing to publicly report its progress on its animal welfare commitments.
Compass Group USA’s commitment also includes offering more meat-free foods, through the creation of a dining station focusing on plant-based meals for its education and business accounts. It’s doing so in alignment with the called Menus of Change initiative developed by the Culinary Institute of America and Harvard School of Public Health, which proposes an increase in the availability of grains, fruits, and vegetables, and a reduction in the volume of meat served.
In terms of impact, Compass Group USA runs the dining operations at more than ten thousand schools, hospitals, stadiums, museums, event centers, and other institutions. This decisive move in policy major is a prime example of how corporations—especially those with socially conscious people at their helm—can spur transformational change in a food system that for too long has been spiraling into an unhealthy, unsustainable, inhumane black hole.
We appreciate and applaud the tremendous work that so many within Compass Group USA have done over the years on animal welfare issues, and we’re looking forward to continuing our work with them to implement these commitments.