We believe everyone deserves access to healthy, ethical and sustainable food. This is why we have incorporated social responsibility into our business practices with initiatives that support the environment, community, food safety and animal welfare. Like our customers, we are concerned about the welfare of the animals used to produce the products we offer and recognize the necessity of healthy animals for food quality and safety.
Accordingly, UNFI accepts in principle the internationally accepted “Five Freedoms” for animals.
- Freedom from hunger and thirst by ready access to fresh water and food that maintains full health and vigor
- Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
- Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment
- Freedom to express normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities, and company of the animal's own kind
- Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment that prevent mental suffering
As a purchaser of animal products, it is UNFI’s obligation to ensure our suppliers not only comply with federal, state, and local regulations pertaining to the farming and processing of animals, but also meet or exceed UNFI’s standards in alignment with the Five Freedoms. We have identified the most pressing animal welfare issues and established standards for our supply chain as detailed below. Specifically, UNFI commits to sourcing from suppliers who agree to the following practices on all purchases we directly control.
- Implementing a leg health and foot pad dermatitis monitoring and improvement plan*
- Providing birds with environmental enrichments, litter, and lighting that meet GAP’s new standards
- Ending toe-trimming, de-spurring, beak trimming, and other physical alterations (aside from clipping wings in a humane manner)
- Establishing a zero-tolerance policy for animal abuse
- Adopting live-catching policies that minimize birds stress and risk of injury
- Reducing stocking density to 6 lb./ft. 2 or lower with no cages, per GAP standards
- Shifting to strains of birds approved by GAP based on measurably improved welfare outcomes, including lower rates of moderate to severe lameness, hock burn, and foot pad dermatitis compared to current conventional strains
- Processing chickens in a manner that avoids live dumping and live shackling, and instead uses a pre-shackle, multi controlled atmosphere processes system recognized as more humane.
UNFI commits to:
- Striving to meet the animal welfare guidelines outlined above within the specified time frame
- Regularly reporting on its progress toward these animal welfare goals
- Continuing to lead the industry by adopting best practices for animal welfare
- Staying attuned to new technologies developed to advance animal welfare
- Engaging reliable third-party auditors to ensure animal welfare standards are enforced