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When Walmart makes a change, for good or ill, the effects are felt throughout the world. Fortunately for the global society, many of its recent changes reflect a socially responsible standard that modern consumers increasingly demand. For example, the retailer recently issued standards for livestock producers that sell to its stores, covering the appropriate living conditions for pigs, cows, and chickens, as well as the preferred reporting norms about the uses of antibiotics when raising livestock for human consumption. Although the standards are voluntary at this point, Walmart notes that it has always started by issuing voluntary standards that it hopes suppliers will meet. In doing so, it gives them some room to institute the changes, ensures a positive relationship between the supplier and the retailer, and still ultimately results in the desired changes taking place. These standards are coming along at a time that many brands and companies are seeking to guarantee food safety and the ethical treatment of livestock, such as Tyson Chicken’s announcement that it would stop using antibiotics that also can be used by humans in its production lines. The basis for Walmart’s new standards were the “five freedoms” that a now defunct nonprofit group published several years ago. Accordingly animal welfare groups have widely praised the move, calling it a “step in the right direction.”


Source: Stephanie Strom, The New York Times, May 22, 2015