The Humane Society of the United States applauds Atlanta-based Arby’s for its new policy to eliminate controversial gestation crates from its pork supply chain. Gestation crates are cages used to tightly confine breeding pigs to the point that the animals can’t even turn around.
Arby’s is the second largest quick-service sandwich chain in the U.S. with more than 3,500 restaurants.
“Arby’s is committed to only working with suppliers who have policies in place to work towards the elimination of gestation crates on sow farms,” Arby’s states on its website. “We believe there are more humane and sustainable alternatives to gestation crates and are actively collaborating with our suppliers to implement solutions that align with our company’s commitment to animal welfare.”
“The Humane Society of the United States applauds Arby’s for closing its doors to pork producers that aren’t eliminating gestation crates,” stated Josh Balk, corporate policy director of farm animal protection for The HSUS. “If you’re a pork producer without plans to move away from gestation crates, you’ve nearly run out of buyers willing to purchase your products. It’s time to change.”
Similar announcements made recently by Oscar Mayer, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Costco, Safeway, Kroger and more than 40 other leading food companies signal a reversal in a three-decade-old trend in the pork industry that leaves most breeding pigs confined day and night in gestation crates during their four-month pregnancy. These cages are roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies and designed to prevent them from even turning around. The animals are subsequently transferred into another crate to give birth, re-impregnated, and put back into a gestation crate. This happens pregnancy after pregnancy for their entire lives, adding up to years of virtual immobilization. This confinement system has come under fire from veterinarians, farmers, animal welfare advocates, animal scientists, consumers and others.
- Nine U.S. states have passed laws to ban the gestation crate confinement of pregnant pigs.
- Renowned animal welfare scientist and advisor to the pork industry, Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is clear on this issue: “Confining an animal for most of its life in a box in which it is not able to turn around does not provide a decent life.” Grandin further states, “We’ve got to treat animals right, and the gestation stalls have got to go.”
- Leading pork producers Smithfield and Hormel have pledged to end the use of gestation crates at their company-owned facilities by 2017, and Cargill is already 50 percent crate-free.
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