Following the devastating acts of animal cruelty reported at Fair Oaks Farms, fairlife immediately stopped accepting milk from any Fair Oaks locations. But we know we must do more to prevent animal abuse from occurring anywhere in our supply chain. That’s why, at Coca-Cola, we are launching our own investigation to ensure our suppliers are taking the right steps to prevent animal cruelty.
Coca-Cola Chief Technical Officer Nancy Quan is leading a team that is overseeing audits of all 30 fairlife dairy suppliers. Here, Nancy answers our questions about the purpose of these audits and how the findings can help improve animal welfare practices across the industry.
Q. What steps are you taking to help prevent this type of serious incident from happening again?
As part of our investigation, we are collaborating with experts from Validus to conduct a rigorous audit of all fairlife dairy suppliers in the United States. Validus will be a critical partner in evaluating these suppliers’ animal welfare and worker care programs, so we can help prevent animal cruelty at any fairlife supplier going forward.
Following the audits, the team of experts will recommend best practice improvements where needed and partner with us as we develop consistent animal welfare standards that will be required of all suppliers as our farm-to-table business grows.
Q. Why do you think Validus is the right one to lead the audit?
Validus is well known for its track record in documenting and verifying socially responsible animal welfare and worker care practices through on-site audit and certifications of farms and food suppliers.
Q. Will you publish the actions you are taking following this audit?
Yes. We expect Validus to complete their review by mid-July, after which we will publish a summary of the action steps we are taking to address their findings. Ultimately, through this effort, we hope to help raise the bar for animal care and protection across the US dairy industry. [August 30 update: a summary of actions steps following the audits is available here]
We know people expect us to lead on issues that matter to our industry, our families and our communities. And we have the platform, the resources, and above all, a passionate team of Coca-Cola people, to be the change we want to see in our dairy supply chain and beyond.
Q. Can you tell us what the auditors will do on each farm visit?
Given Validus’ experience in conducting animal welfare and worker care audits throughout the industry, their processes are well-defined and outlined on their website. Their objective is to conduct independent, third-party verifications of on-farm animal welfare and worker care practices, as well as to show continual improvement of these practices. There’s much more information published on their website.
Q. How will your audits be different than the audits already being conducted by fairlife?
The audits fairlife is conducting are important and part of their overall commitment to assuring ongoing quality and animal safety. But we recognize that we need to do even more, so we can be completely confident that our partners live up to our high standards.
Q. Why is leading on this issue important to your business?
Our vision is to be a total beverage company, which means offering the drinks people want across a wide range of categories from teas to juices to dairy to kombuchas to sparkling soft drinks.
Farm-to-table beverages like dairy have complex supply chains, and in recent years, have sparked many consumer debates about topics like sustainable farming, transparency and animal welfare. We want to ensure that as we expand our offerings to give people the choices they want, we are also doing business the right way and raising the bar throughout our supply chain. That’s what people expect from Coca-Cola.