McDonald’s has made a splash in the pork industry this week. In a joint statement with The Humane Society, McDonald’s announced on Monday that it will “require its U.S. pork suppliers to outline their plans to phase out the use of sow gestation stalls”. This is interesting, because how much pork does McDonald’s actually use?
They are currently beginning an assessment with their U.S. suppliers to determine how this will be done. They plan to share the results of their suppliers’ plans in May.
As a huge corporate entity, McDonald’s choice to move away from gestation crates sends a big message to food sellers that extreme and inhumane practices won’t be around for long.
So far eight states have “enacted laws to phase out the use of small metal cages that don’t allow the sows room even to turn around.” The Humane Society has been a crucial negotiator behind these laws.
It’s unclear how long this process will actually take. Smithfield Food promised to get rid of gestation crates, and only two months ago recommitted to phasing out crates completely by 2017. Earlier this month, Hormel Foods also announced plans to eliminate gestation crates.
McDonald’s decision was backed by leading animal welfare experts, including Dr. Temple Grandin. “Moving from gestation stalls to better alternatives will improve the welfare of sows and I’m pleased to see McDonald’s working with its suppliers toward that end. It takes a thorough plan to address the training of animal handlers, proper feeding systems, and the significant financial investment and logistics involved with such a big change. I’m optimistic about this announcement,” said Dr. Grandin.
Animal welfare activists have toiled long and hard to reverse the inhumane treatment of animals in factory farms. It’s great to hear that big food producers are starting to pay attention and take action, despite their resistance and difficult cooperation.
[CC Image by Farm Sanctuary via Flickr]