Humane animal husbandry across the whole range
Our sourcing guideline stipulates the minimum animal welfare requirements, which also apply to foreign producers - from the husbandry and feeding of the animals, to their transport and slaughter.
The Animal Protection Act and Animal Protection Ordinance govern the husbandry of livestock in Switzerland. The applicable provisions include the following:
- Husbandry and feeding: Sufficiently large barns and sufficient exercise over the year as a whole. For example, cattle may not be deprived of outdoor access for more than two weeks continuously. Access to feeding troughs with the least possible stress and the feed must be humane. Calves must have access to roughage and water at all times. Keeping sows in crates (litter crates) and hard fully-slatted floors in cattle lying areas are prohibited, as are antibiotics and hormones to promote growth.
- Transport and slaughter: Maximum transport time of six hours for live animals (max. transport time of eight hours). Vertebrates must be anaesthetized before they are killed.
- Interventions: Castration without pain killers has been prohibited since 2008. The debeaking and wing clipping of poultry and the docking or tying of cattle and pigs' tails are prohibited. Likewise, the clipping of piglets’ teeth is forbidden. De-horning without anaesthesia is forbidden.
Guideline on Sustainable Sourcing
Our Guideline on Sustainable Sourcing sets the minimum requirements for animal welfare for the entire range of brands and own-label brands. For example, we give preference to foreign suppliers whose animal husbandry best meets the Swiss standards. We do not sell any products obtained through cruelty to animals, for example foie gras, duck foie gras and frogs' legs. We do not stock battery farm eggs on our shelves, and we guarantee that the eggs processed into products in our own-label brands do not originate from battery hens.
With the exception of lambskin and cowhide products we do not sell any articles made from real fur. We ban the mulesing procedure (removal of the skin around sheeps' tails) and live plucking for down products. Moreover, we ban the use of reptile skins and materials from endangered animal species in our products.
Animal welfare standards abroad
It is important to us that foreign producers also rear their animals under conditions comparable to those in Switzerland. Therefore, in 2013 we extended the reach of our successful cooperation with Swiss Animal Protection (SAP), which now also assesses operations abroad on our behalf.
For poultry, we are going one step further: Together with foreign poultry suppliers, we are establishing animal husbandry practices based on the model of the Swiss Federal PAS programme (Particularly Animal-Friendly Stabling) with more seating areas and more space in the housing, bedding, and access to a covered outdoor area. All of our Coop own label brand fresh turkey meat (excl. Prix Garantie) from Switzerland and abroad has been PAS-certified since February 2016. All standard imported fresh chicken meat (excl. Prix Garantie) comes from farms that produce in accordance with PAS regulations. Other producers are changing their production over to ensure that the entire special-offer quantity can be produced at least in accordance with the Swiss PAS standard over the course of 2017. Moreover, since May 2014 we have been selling horse meat from Spain that is produced according to high animal welfare standards.
It is our stated goal to attain the standard of Swiss animal protection legislation for our imported products as well.
Feeds, medicines and genetic engineering
Over 70 percent of the soya feed that is used for our range originates from certified, responsible cultivation. Our Swiss suppliers feed their animals with feed that has not been genetically modified. As regards foreign suppliers, we give preference to those who also rely on non-GMO feeds. We have this investigated on a regular basis, by means of molecular biological tests of the animal feed and of the end product.
The preventive use of antibiotics is also prohibited, and through various projects we are seeking to reduce the medicinal use of antibiotics. The use of hormones banned in Switzerland or growth promoters is also prohibited across the entire product range. Coop does not accept products derived from cloned or genetically modified animals or their offspring.
Animal transport in Switzerland is undertaken by trained specialists. The animals’ identity and health status, and the travel time must be stated on the accompanying document. In addition to official inspections, our label programmes Naturaplan and Naturafarm also undergo regular and unannounced transport inspections by Swiss Animal Protection (SAP). A maximum travel time of 6 hours also applies to transport within our import programmes with higher animal welfare standards, as in Switzerland. The aim is a maximum transport time of 8 hours for the entire range.
- Stress must be avoided: the animals must not be impelled to move by force.
- Loading density: enough space for each animal and separate compartment for each farm are imperative. For example: Pigs weighting between 90 and 110 kilograms must have at least 0.43 square metres of space.
- Ramp and side panels: the ramp must not be too steep and the side panels must be sufficiently high to prevent injury during transport.
- Transport: the travelling time must not exceed six hours.
- Animal transporters: for reasons of hygiene, animals may only be transported in a special lorry.
Our Swiss fresh meat mostly comes from abattoirs run by Bell AG, which, in addition to the state inspections, are also audited or assessed by Swiss Animal Protection (SAP). Meat under the Naturafarm and Naturaplan label comes exclusively from such abattoirs. An official veterinarian must be present at Swiss abattoirs, who checks over the animals upon arrival and oversees the slaughter process.
On arrival at the abattoir, the identity of the animals, their state of health and animal protection concerns are verified. Imported poultry produced in programmes in accordance with the requirements of the Swiss Animal Protection Act come from abattoirs which are inspected regularly by Swiss Animal Protection SAP as well as by state inspectors.
All meat used at Coop comes from animals anaesthetized prior to being killed. The only exception – in line with Swiss animal protection legislation – applies to wild animals such as fallow deer or bison. Wild animals that are killed in the field rather than in an abattoir are killed by trained persons using a shot that results in immediate death.
Ultimately, we can only ensure humane animal husbandry if our employees in Sales and Management are properly informed about the importance of animal welfare. We make a distinction between basic knowledge for all employees (e.g. through training given during induction days) and specialist expertise. The statutory requirements and the Naturafarm and Naturaplan animal husbandry requirements are the focus of our training.
Field reports from farmers and tours of facilities provide additional insights on farming practices and show tangible differences in animal husbandry conditions. External partners such as Suckler Cow Switzerland (Verein Mutterkuh Schweiz) provide information at events on the latest animal welfare issues.