WalMart is urging its U.S. suppliers to curb the use of antibiotics and improve the treatment of them. The guidelines, a company spokesman said in an interview with the Associated Press, call for producers to only use antibiotics for disease treatment or prevention and end the use of gestation crates for sows.

Kathleen McLaughlin, senior vice president of Wal-Mart's sustainability division, told The Associated Press in a phone interview Thursday that the retailer is not putting deadlines on suppliers and the steps aren't mandatory.

"We think what's needed is a fresh look at how we can look at producing food. This is an industrywide change. It won't happen overnight," she said. "It's about transparency. We don't know a lot about who was using what for what reason."

The company has faced criticism in the past by not setting deadlines on its producers to end the use of gestation crates. The company’s guidelines call for not only an end to the crates, but also for improved pain management during painful practices such as castration and de-horning.

Source: Associated Press via ABC News