A note on scope: unless otherwise stated, all the policies listed below are applicable across all products sold in Morrisons. This includes own-brand and branded products, fresh, frozen and processed meat products, as well as those where animal proteins or by-products are used as an ingredient.
Auditing Standards and Compliance
We have internal processes to ensure that products on our shelves carrying an animal welfare assurance standard, such as Red Tractor, are fully compliant.
Any meat coming into our own brand products for retail or manufacture is assured to an independently audited standard through our Farm Animal Assurance standards policy, which covers animals from UK, EU and non-EU countries or origin.
We undertake an annual benchmarking process with an independent auditing body to ensure all the standards in use for both British and imported products (listed below) are still of a satisfactory standard to meet our policies. As a minimum, the standards used on imported products must be at least an equivalent to the UK Red Tractor standard. If a standard is found to no longer meet the requirements of our policy, it is removed from the list of standards we use to source products.
Farm assurance standards in use include:
- Assured Food Standards (Red Tractor) (UK) - Beef, pork, lamb, dairy, chicken, duck, turkey
- QMS - Quality Meat Scotland - Beef, lamb, pork
- Farm Assured Welsh Lamb (FAWL)
- British Quality Assured Pork (BQAP) - ONLY for pork offal products
- Bord Bia (Rep of Ireland) - Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Standard; Pigmeat Quality Assurance Standard
- QSG - Quality and Safety Guarantee - Pork
- IKB - Integrated Chain Control, Varkens - Pork, chicken
- Beter Leven - Chicken, dairy
- QS - Qualitat und Sicherheit - Pork, chicken: Tiers I and II only, duck, turkey
- Certus - Pork
- Global GAP - Pork, Chicken, beef, lamb, turkey
- Genesis GAP - Chicken, pork, duck
- Interporc Animal Welfare Spain (Bienestar) - Pork
- New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme - Lamb
- RSPCA Assured
100% of our own brand meat, fresh milk, dairy products, shell egg and fish products are assured to an approved standard of farm production, which include specific animal welfare requirements.
These standards are captured on our product specification system and their compliance assessed by independent auditors at annual supplier visits. Any non-conformances are followed up by our technical team and the supplier in question until a resolution is found. The policy was extended in 2020 to include animal welfare standards for milk and eggs in our ingredient, processed and frozen ranges.
100% of our own brand fresh meat, milk and eggs are also British, and 100% of the fresh pork, beef, lamb, poultry, milk and cheddar cheese we sell in our stores comes from farms certified by Red Tractor, or an approved equivalent scheme, giving customers assurance on food safety, hygiene, animal welfare standards and environmental protection.
In addition to Red Tractor, we also look at other measures to help develop high standards of animal health and welfare. For example, additional measures are set for all our own brand pork, dairy beef and chicken producers to include additional stockmanship, training and management tasks for the health and welfare of their livestock.
Animal Cloning & Genetic Engineering
We do not accept genetically modified material, or milk or meat from cloned animals or their offspring in any products. This includes animals derived from semen or embryos of clones. The fact that we deal directly with farmers, and process the vast majority of our own brand fresh beef, pork and lamb ourselves, gives us close control over the provenance and quality of our meat. We require our suppliers to sign a declaration with each delivery of cattle and lamb that the animals are neither clones nor the progeny of clones. We also do not accept any GM or cloned fish, including triploid Atlantic salmon which is prohibited due to welfare concerns.
We have never conducted or commissioned tests on animals.
All of our own brand personal care and cosmetic products are certified as ‘not tested on animals’ by the Cruelty Free International Humane Cosmetics Standard, symbolised by the Leaping Bunny logo. This rigorous standard stipulates that no animal testing is conducted or commissioned for cosmetic products or ingredients in any phase of product development by Morrisons or our suppliers after a fixed cut-off date. Additionally, we undergo independent audits to ensure that we remain compliant with the criteria of the Leaping Bunny certification scheme.
“An emphasis on sound animal husbandry and healthy animals kept to high welfare standards will help minimise routine reliance on antimicrobials” (CHAWG report, June 2016)
Through working together, the UK livestock industry has lowered its use of antibiotics by 40% over the last five years. The UK is now one of the lowest users of antibiotics to treat farm animals in Europe. Please click here to read further on this.
When properly used, antibiotics are essential for treating infection in animals, but excessive and inappropriate use of drugs is a problem due to how it drives increased resistance. This is why we have an active programme to address antibiotic use in farming and at all times promote preventative practice to ensure health conditions are treated proactively, thus reducing the need for antibiotics.
- Colistin is prohibited in all our fresh meat and dairy products.
- No pork in our own-brand fresh supply chain is treated with any antibiotics critically important to human health.
- Farms which supply our fresh meat, fish, dairy and eggs are required to only use critically important antibiotics (as defined by the European Medicines Alliance) as a last resort, if at all.
- Our own brand products are produced from animals that are not routinely receiving antibiotics when they are not needed.
- Farms supplying Morrisons with fresh meat, fish, dairy and eggs must monitor and report their antibiotic use.
- We also work closely with RUMA and are part of the Executive Steering Group for the ‘Food Industry Initiative for Antimicrobials’ and a member of the BRC’s working group on AMR.
For more information on our approach to antibiotic usage, please click here.
We have strict requirements in avoiding animals produced in systems which use sow stalls, single penning, battery cages, tethering, veal crates and force feeding. Our farm standards policy covers animals from UK, EU and non-EU country of origin, and we adhere to EU regulations, and more specifically British Red Tractor standards, that have strict controls on animal confinement.
You can find out more about compliance to this policy in our Farm Animal Welfare Progress Report.
All growth promotants (hormonal, non-hormonal and antibiotic) are prohibited across any farms supplying Morrisons own brand products.
Routine Husbandry Procedures
Our Farm Animal Welfare Standards policy does not permit the castration, routine teeth clipping and routine tail docking of pigs, though in line with Red Tractor guidance, this can be conducted under veterinary direction. We now monitor numbers of pigs with fully intact tails and have projects on environmental enrichment underway to try and offer further best practice guidance on one of the many factors affecting tail biting in pigs.
Our fish policy prohibits fin clipping. In previous years, we had a small derogation in place for less than 2% of our salmon supply, due to national regulations in Iceland that made fin clipping a mandatory practice. Through some great work between our suppliers and their local Government, all our suppliers are now compliant with our policy on fin clipping. This is an excellent example of how working closely with industry and our suppliers can have a real, positive impact on animal welfare practices.
We have a Yearling Beef initiative that promotes the use of bulls in our beef system, providing a practical outlet for farmers that wish to avoid castration. More information on this initiative can be found here.
Mulesing is prohibited in any lamb products.
Live Import / Export
We do not import any live animals into the UK for processing in our abattoirs or allow exports of animal live animals either.
Our dairy bull calf scheme, established within our farming research programme in 2009, now processes approximately 30,000 dairy bull calves per year, providing additional income for dairy farmers and reducing the appeal for them to cull or to export live animals from the UK.
Morrisons policy requires that all meat used in any Morrisons product is stunned in a manner that renders the animal insensible to pain prior to slaughter. The number of re-stuns is also recorded for our own-brand products, and is shown in our Progress Report. We also require that all end of lay hens and all cull dairy cows are stunned before slaughter. All pigs within our fresh supply chain are gas stunned before slaughter, in line with current RSPCA Assured recommendations. We remain open to considering alternative stunning methods in pigs, and would welcome additional research by Defra into how these methods can be practically applied to a commercial abattoir setting.
All salmon, trout, pangasius, halibut, bass and bream in our Own Brand products must also be stunned. For any species where cold water shock is still used as an industry wide practice, such as Tilapia and Barramundi, our suppliers must engage with relevant independent specialists to ensure the process has been optimised within the capabilities of the site.
As well as monitoring and managing the welfare of animals in lairage and the training of staff, we monitor the effectiveness of stunning in our own abattoirs (beef, pork and lamb) to ensure that best practice is adhered to at all times and ask suppliers to monitor stunning effectiveness in their own processing facilities. We have also moved to a new target in our own abattoirs of having no more than 2 in every 25 livestock requiring back-up stunning. All plants monitor the effectiveness of stunning through monitoring, measuring and recording the stunning success rates. In all cases, the trained technician looks for signs of recovery and performs a documented check every 30 minutes. We look for 100% compliance, so on the rare occasion that they may detect signs of recovery, CO2 levels may be adjusted (birds for chicken, pigs for pork), or alternative methods of dispatch are used. This is monitored daily and reported monthly to our Livestock Steering Group.
CO2 stunning is used for livestock going into pork and chicken audited by the RSPCA Assured Team. Following the recent findings of the Defra research into low atmospheric pressure stunning, we still remain open to considering alternative stunning methods in pigs, noting the reduction in pre-slaughter stress gas stunning brings. We also continue to monitor key indicators of pre-slaughter stress at our abattoirs, including assessments of meat quality and pH level testing.
CCTV on farm
Our dairy farms supplying us with fresh milk have all been required to have installed CCTV over key areas in the farm to help provide extra governance and insight into animal welfare, staff welfare and farm safety since 2019. Pig farms supplying us with fresh pork are also required to have CCTV installed by 31.12.21 as are the farms supplying us with fresh chicken.
CCTV at Slaughter
Morrisons was the first supermarket to have CCTV cameras installed in abattoirs to reassure the public of good welfare practice at slaughter and high standards of food hygiene. The Government has made this a legal requirement which we fully support.
Our customers want to know that animals are treated well throughout the slaughter process. We believe that having CCTV cameras independently reviewed is a clear way to demonstrate that we have the highest possible standards. CCTV is just one tool that we use to protect animal welfare in our abattoirs. In addition to the more than 80 cameras we have running, our abattoirs are the first in England with staff qualified in the Welfare at the Time of Killing (WATOK) standards.
We do not accept TB reactor cattle into our supply chain.
Travelling / Transport
Animal welfare is important to our customers and it's important to us. As the UK’s only retailer to buy directly from farms and process meat through our own abattoirs and manufacturing facilities, looking after the animals whilst they’re being transported from farm to processing is as important as any stage in the chain. We have an own brand policy of requiring animals to travel no longer than eight hours’ journey time. Full details on compliance to this standard can be found in our Progress Report.
We have ten ‘high welfare’ transporters, which means they are fitted with drinking systems and insulated roofs to keep the livestock as comfortable as possible on their journeys. We have spent around £400,000 on purchasing new and maintaining our current high welfare trailers to ensure our transport standards are very high at all times. All our drivers hold a City and Guilds ‘Transport of Animals by Road’ long journeys qualification and are required at each stop they make to ensure that all animals they pick up are healthy and fit to travel.