Animal Welfare

Sysco is committed to treating animals humanely. This includes upholding high welfare standards during all phases of the production cycle for Sysco Brand animal products.

We work with our Sysco Brand veal, beef, lamb, pork and poultry suppliers, as well as shell egg and processed egg suppliers, to promote the humane treatment of animals at all times. Not only are our suppliers expected to meet regulatory requirements, but they must also follow industry best practices for animal care from housing to harvest.


Sysco’s Animal Welfare Advisory Council meets up to three times a year with the Sysco Quality Assurance (QA) team to discuss animal welfare issues, including supplier performance. The Council includes members of Sysco’s Quality Assurance and Merchandising teams along with experts in animal welfare from academia and industry. The Council’s role is to provide guidance to our Management team on the design, development and implementation of animal welfare programs and to advise on emerging issues.

We use a three-pronged approach to ensure that suppliers of Sysco Brand meat, poultry and eggs meet our standards.

  • Suppliers must document ongoing self-assessments of their animal care practices;
  • Sysco requires unannounced, annual third-party Animal Welfare audits of our suppliers' facilities;
  • Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO)-certified Sysco QA members conduct supplier audits.

Where instances of noncompliance with our animal welfare standards are found, we work with suppliers to develop and implement corrective actions. If a supplier is unable or unwilling to introduce improvements, or if the supplier has committed a critical violation of our standards, we will no longer source product from them.


In 2015, 146 third-party animal welfare audits were conducted with a 100 percent pass rate. Sysco QA conducted 40 second-party animal welfare audits and 22 farm audits; all with 100 percent pass rates.


Sysco takes its role as a responsible corporate citizen in the food supply chain seriously. We use science-based standards for animal welfare and work diligently with our suppliers to ensure humane treatment of animals. We also listen closely to our customers' needs, many which have expressed their desire for the industry to implement more humane sow housing systems. As a result, Sysco is working with its pork suppliers to ensure that group housing of sows is implemented over time and we routinely collect information about their progress.

Most pork supplies come from a large number of independent farms, making it difficult for these changes to happen quickly; however, we will continue to work with our pork suppliers to develop a timeline to achieve this goal.


In June 2016, Sysco announced its plans to work with its suppliers toward a goal of sourcing only cage-free eggs by 2026, dependent upon available supply, affordability and customer demand. This new commitment builds on the company's longstanding practice to demand high standards in the humane treatment of animals sourced for its Sysco brand products. Since 2004, all Sysco brand shell egg suppliers have been certified by the United Egg Producers Animal Husbandry Guidelines and also undergo annual animal welfare audits.

In setting a sustainable egg policy, the company considered many issues in addition to animal welfare, including food affordability, food safety and quality, environmental impacts and the health and safety of egg producers. The company believes the transition to a 100 percent cage-free egg supply chain by 2026 will require significant collaboration amongst industry participants, including our suppliers, to specifically address food affordability and environmental concerns. Sysco is committed to working through the supply chain to achieve a sustainable solution for both egg producers and our customers.

“Sysco has a strong track record of supporting high animal welfare standards, and I am pleased to see it working to improve conditions further, both in its own supply chain and across the industry.”

—     Dr. Temple Grandin, Colorado State University