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The health and wellbeing of livestock and industrial farm animals is being largely overlooked by the world’s leading food companies, according to a “ground-breaking” report released by UK-based Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare.

FoodNavigator.com reports that the report included assessments of farm animal welfare information released by the companies themselves in various platforms: annual reports, websites, press releases and CSR reports (corporate social responsibility).

According to Nicky Amos, program director for the Business Benchmark, “The central conclusion from our research is that farm animal welfare is receiving nothing like the attention that other corporate responsibility issues are receiving.” Amos said that while more than 70 percent of the companies reviewed in the assessment acknowledge farm animal welfare as a business issue, “many have yet to publish a formal policy and fewer still have set out the specific commitments that underpin this area.”

Nearly 70 companies were reviewed and of them, fewer than 50 percent published a formal animal welfare policy. Forty-one percent did describe how senior management or boards “oversee” their animal welfare approaches and only 26 percent have published any official objectives or targets in their animal welfare commitments.

An advisor to the Business Benchmark reportedly said that the business case for food companies to be concerned about the health and wellbeing of livestock animals is “compelling.”

The report did single out some “good practice examples” including British retailer Sainsbury and mega multinational corporation, Unilever, for its Sustainable Agriculture Code, which outlines Five Freedoms used determine animal welfare standards.

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Image: Paul Stevenson