(ANIMAL WELFARE) Following in the footsteps of companies like Oscar Meyer, The Cheesecake Factory, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Costco, and many more, Minneapolis-based General Mills has announced that it will be eliminating gestation crates from its pork supply chains. As one of America’s leading food companies, the decision comes in response to the public’s deep concerns about the inhumane treatment of farm animals. However, the development and implementation of more humane methods could take up to 10 years. Read on to learn more about this progressive, small step forward. — Global Animal
The Humane Society of the United States applauds Minneapolis-based General Mills, one of America’s leading food companies, for announcing that it will eliminate gestation crates—small cages used to confine breeding pigs—from its pork supply chains.
The company stated on its website that “General Mills supports the development of pregnant sow housing alternatives” to gestation crates, while acknowledging “that the development and implementation of alternative systems may be a long-term process that could take up to 10 years.” General Mills continued that it “will favor pork suppliers that provide actionable plans by 2017 to create traceability and end their use of gestation crates within the U.S. pork supply chain.”
“Consumers are deeply concerned about inhumane treatment of animals, and General Mills is responding,” stated Josh Balk, corporate policy director of farm animal protection for The HSUS. “We welcome General Mills’ important animal welfare progress and hope the pork industry can read the writing on the wall: gestation crates don’t have a future in the pork industry.”
Similar announcements 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 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 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