Marriott International (NYSE: MAR) is expanding its work to create a more sustainable planet by eliminating two controversial animal confinement systems from its food supply chain. According to its new policies, the Bethesda, Md.-based company will:
- require all of its pork suppliers to discontinue the use of gestation crates for Marriott’s supply chain by 2018; and
- ensure that by 2015, all eggs and egg products used by Marriott come from cage-free hens.
The policies follow the company’s 2011 transition to cage-free eggs at its JW Marriott locations.
“Marriott International cares deeply about animal welfare and environmental sustainability, which is why we’re so committed to seeing an end to gestation crates for pigs and battery cages for hens,” said Brad Nelson, vice president of culinary and corporate chef for Marriott International. “Today’s announcement is the right thing for animals, the environment, our customers and our company.”
“By taking these steps, Marriott International will improve the lives of countless animals,” said Josh Balk, corporate policy director for farm animal protection at The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States applauds the company for working to raise the bar on these important animal welfare issues.”
In recent years, there has been increased global attention to the abuse of farm animals, especially the welfare of breeding pigs. Similar announcements to eliminate gestation crates made recently by Oscar Mayer, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Costco, Safeway, Kroger and nearly 50 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 gestation crates 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 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 breeding 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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