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The move — described by animal rights groups as the most sweeping food company action to date — would force hundreds of thousands of farms to provide more space for farm animals and phase out controversial practices such as dehorning cattle, castrating animals without painkillers and keeping egg-laying hens in cramped cages.
"We know that our consumers care about the welfare of farm animals and we, as a company, are committed to ensuring the highest possible levels of farm animal welfare across our global supply chain," said Benjamin Ware, manager of responsible sourcing for Nestle.
The commitment by the world's largest food and beverage company could potentially ripple across the industry and force smaller firms to adhere to the same practices, animal advocates said.
"That's the hope, that this sets new standards and starts a new era calling on other food players like Wal-Mart to follow Nestle," said Matt Rice of Mercy for Animals.
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