Safeway is a retail grocery industry leader in animal welfare. The company understands that its responsibility as a purchaser of food products must include working with its vendors to ensure that animals in the food production system are being treated humanely. The company has developed a comprehensive animal welfare program to ensure that both its national brand and private label suppliers have programs in place standard for the humane treatment of animals in all aspects of animal husbandry, shipment, and handling during the harvest process.


All Safeway meat, pork, poultry, egg, dairy and seafood suppliers are required to meet a set of designated animal treatment guidelines. In addition to national brands, all suppliers of Safeway branded products will be required to meet the same standards. Secondary Safeway-branded processors must demonstrate that they require their raw material suppliers to meet Safeway’s animal welfare standards. Compliance with the Safeway brand produce guidelines will be the responsibility of the Meat Quality Assurance Group and the Supply Operations Quality Assurance Group.


Safeway’s overall commitment to animal welfare includes an audit program conducted by a rotating team of internal and independent auditors. The company has established a set of procedures and standards designed to ensure humane treatment of animals. Audits are conducted and scheduled under the guidance of Virginia Littlefield, Safeway’s Manager, Meat Laboratory and Animal Welfare. Ms. Littlefield is a member of the company’s Animal Welfare Advisory Council.

Audit results are reviewed by Safeway’s Animal Welfare Council and with vendors.

The third party audit firms approved for inspections are:

• Silliker Labs
• Food Safety Net Services
• NSF-Cook & Thurber
• Process Management Consulting

Safeway’s Animal Welfare Advisory Council

Since 2001 Safeway has maintained a professional association with a number of well-recognized experts in animal welfare. The company recently decided to establish a more formal and fully functioning Animal Welfare Council composed of both company and independent animal welfare members. The Council’s broad mandate is to provide guidance and counsel to the company on matters relating to the humane treatment of animals in the food production system.

Temple Grandin, Ph.D - Dr. Grandin is an Associate Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. She obtained her B.A. Degree at Franklin Pierce College and her M.S. in Animal Science at Arizona State University. She received her Ph.D. in Animal Science from the University of Illinois in 1989. She teaches courses on livestock behavior and facility design at Colorado State University and consults with the livestock industry on facility design, livestock handling, and animal welfare.

Sara Shields, Ph.D. - Dr. Shields is an animal welfare scientist at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, where she teaches in the Animal Science department. Prior to working at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Dr. Shields earned her Ph.D. under the direction of Dr. Joy Mench at the University of California, Davis, in the Animal Behavior program. There she worked with both broiler chickens and laying hens. She also worked in the Emergency Disease Program at the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Janice Swanson, Ph.D. – Dr. Swanson received her Ph.D in Applied Animal Ethology from the University of Maryland, Department of Animal Sciences in 1988. She earned masters and baccalaureate degrees in animal science from the University of Connecticut in 1980 and 1977, respectively. Dr. Swanson’s professional employment includes 5 years with the United States Department of Agriculture as a Technical Information Specialist in the Animal Welfare Information Center. In April 1992, Dr. Swanson joined the faculty in the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry at Kansas State University.

In 2002, Dr. Swanson achieved the rank of full professor and has been serving as the interim department head since January 2005. She is a member of the KSU graduate school faculty. Dr. Swanson serves on numerous national committees including the Food Marketing Institute – National Council of Chain Restaurant Animal Welfare Council, Burger King Animal Well-Being Council, the United Egg Producers Scientific Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, and McDonald’s Animal Welfare Advisory Council.

Jim Sheeran, Vice President, Corporate Meat Merchandising, Safeway Inc. - Mr. Sheeran has overall corporate responsibility for Safeway’s meat, poultry and pork purchasing and merchandising functions.

Virginia Littlefield, Manager, Meat Laboratory/Animal Welfare, Safeway Inc. - Ms. Littlefield joined Safeway in 2000 as a member of the company’s Meat Quality Control operation. She brings more than 20 years experience in the meat industry to her current position. Ms. Littlefield holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Science from Colorado State University and Master of Science study in Animal Welfare and Livestock Handling under Dr. Temple Grandin.

Brian Dowling, Vice President, Public Affairs. Safeway Inc. Mr. Dowling is a 26-year Safeway veteran. He has overall responsibility for the company’s public affairs function including its 10 operating divisions in North America.

Our Commitment

Safeway remains committed to ensuring that its suppliers are engaged in a process of continuous animal welfare improvement. We will work collaboratively with our vendors and the animal science community toward further ensuring that the company’s national brand and private label brands are sourced from suppliers who meet this standard.