Every year, nearly 70 billion animals are farmed for meat, milk and eggs worldwide, 1 billion of which are in the UK. We appreciate that animal welfare is an important part of being a responsible business and we are committed to high standards of animal welfare in our food and non-food products.
Our animal welfare policies are based on the ‘Five Freedoms’ as stated by the Farm Animal Welfare Council:
- Freedom from Hunger and Thirst - ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour
- Freedom from Discomfort - by providing an appropriate environment, including shelter and comfortable resting area
- Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease - by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment
- Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour - by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animals own kind
- Freedom from Fear and Distress - by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
Animal Welfare Management
Day to day management of farm animal welfare sits with the Corporate Responsibility Department and the Corporate Responsibility Director. Animal welfare strategy and policies are agreed nationally by the Group Managing Director.
Our producers are responsible for implementing our policies. Our animal welfare requirements forming part of the contractual agreement between Aldi and producers at the time business is awarded.
We provide training on animal welfare topics to all buyers of animal products and we expect all our producers to provide adequate training to all individuals involved with the direct handling of animals throughout the supply chain.
Where a producer is found to be non-compliant with our animal welfare policies, such as through an audit of our supply chain, our animal welfare team work with the producer to resolve this. The producer is asked for a corrective action plan to resolve non-compliances and demonstrate that these steps have adequately addressed non-compliances with an independent audit. Where issues remain unresolved, or where the same non-compliances are repeated, Aldi will take further action. This may include, but is not limited to, excluding a producer from supply.
Red Tractor and Bord Bia Farm Assurance Standards
Red Tractor and Bord Bia farm assurance standards provide independent certification of animal welfare standards and are audited by a third party. In the UK, all of our everyday fresh meat is Red Tractor certified and in Ireland, all of our fresh meat is Bord Bia certified.
We are the second largest UK retailer of RSPCA Assured products, which includes our eggs, chicken, turkey, pork, sausages, bacon and salmon. RSPCA Assured products guarantee the animals in our product supply chains have been independently checked to meet the RSPCA’s strict standards of high animal welfare, including space to roam, stimulating environments and well cared for, healthy animals.
We have increased the number of RSPCA Assured products we sell year on year so that we now have over 70 RSPCA Assured products across our range. We regularly review our range to identify further opportunities for RSPCA Assured products. You can find out more about our commitment to RSPCA Assured products and recipe inspiration at https://www.aldi.co.uk/rspca-assured.
Our Organic eggs and Organic milk are independently certified to meet the Soil Association’s high standards of animal welfare, with plenty of space and access to pasture when weather and ground conditions permit.
Antibiotics are used to treat, control and prevent disease in farm animals. Some of these antibiotics are also used in human medicine and, if overused, can lead to increased antibiotic resistance.
We are a sponsor of the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (www.ruma.org.uk) a collective of interested parties across the food supply chain. We believe that antibiotic use in animal medicine, when applied responsibly, promotes good animal welfare.
We also believe that the use of antibiotics in animal farming should be prescribed by qualified veterinarians and with a view to good animal welfare and long-term sustainability. We do not support the prophylactic use of antibiotics in animal farming, or their use as growth promoters. We will continue to work with our producers and farmers to reduce antibiotic use in animal farming in a responsible way, in particular those considered by the World Health Organisation to be critically important for human health.
Our Responsible Antibiotic Use Policy is available here.
Genetic Modification and Cloning
We understand that genetically modified (GM) food and cloning are sensitive issues for our customers. Cloned animals and GM ingredients and derivatives are not permitted in our own label meat, eggs and milk.
Current scientific evidence and the position of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) states: “there is no reason to suppose GM feed presents any more risk to farmed livestock than conventional feed. Animals fed on authorised GM crops are considered to be as safe as animals fed on non-GM crops.” As a result, we do not prohibit the use of GM ingredients in animal feed. All of our Organic certified products, including eggs and milk, are free from GM animal feed.
To ensure good standards of animal welfare, all farmed meat and poultry in our own-label products are required to be pre-stunned so that the animal is unconscious and insensible to pain at the point of slaughter.
For all our fresh everyday meat and poultry, CCTV must cover all areas of the abattoir where live animals are being held and handled, including the stunning and slaughter area.
We require our producers to keep transport times for live animals to a minimum, and no more than a maximum of 8 hours for 100% our own-label fresh eggs, milk, meat and poultry.
In the UK, all our shell eggs are sourced from the UK and certified to meet British Lion Standards, which includes strict measure on traceability, welfare, feed, temperature and hygiene.
We sell a range of free range eggs and eggs certified to higher welfare standards including RSPCA Assured and Organic, which give hens more room to roam and stimulating environments, such as straw and objects to peck at.
We are committed to sourcing 100% of our shell eggs from cage-free hens by 2025. We are working with the farmers in our supply chain to make this transition to cage-free farming methods.
All of our fresh milk is British and Red Tractor or Organic certified. All the dairy cows that source our fresh milk are free from tethering.
All our own-label fresh everyday chicken is provided with appropriate environmental enrichment that allows them to preform natural behaviours including pecking, dustbathing and perching, including windows for natural light, pecking objects and play bales. All our own-label fresh Specially Selected chicken is from RSPCA Assured sources.
All of our fresh everyday pork is British and, as a minimum, Red Tractor certified. Sow stalls are not used in the production of our British pork, sausage or bacon.
It is our policy in the UK and Ireland that all our own label cosmetics, toiletries and household products and their ingredients must not have been tested on animals after a fixed cut-off date of 11 March 2013 for cosmetics and toiletries and 01 January 2015 for household and cleaning products. We are working with Cruelty Free International to certify all our products as not tested on animals, so look out for the leaping bunny on our products in a store near you!
Angora wool is not permitted in any of our products. We also prohibit the sourcing of merino and fine wool products from sheep that have been ‘mulesed’, a surgical procedure that does not promote good animal welfare.