Galardi Group, franchisor of Wienerschnitzel, the world’s largest hot dog chain, announced that it is committed to purchasing pork only from suppliers with documented plans to end their use of gestation crates by 2022.
The company operates 350 locations and serves more than 120 million hot dogs each year.
“The move toward a gestation crate-free environment is consistent with Wienerschnitzel’s commitment to provide the highest-quality food, and we support the efforts of pork suppliers to ultimately eliminate the use of gestation crates,” says Alan Cline, director of purchasing and product development. “Moving forward, we will be requesting from our pork suppliers their plans to phase out the use of gestation crates from their supply chains by 2022.”
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) praised the company for its announcement.
“By eliminating gestation crates from its supply chain, Wienerschnitzel is taking an important step in improving the lives of animals,” says Kristie Middleton, outreach manager for The HSUS. “Consumers care about how farm animals are treated, and cramming them in cages where they can barely move for virtually their entire lives is simply out-of-step with those values.”
The announcements by Wienerschnitzel and other 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 pigs are subsequently transferred into another crate to give birth, re-impregnated, and put back into a gestation crate.
This confinement system has come under fire from veterinarians, farmers, animal welfare advocates, animal scientists, consumers, and more.
Since February, other major retailers—including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Costco, Kroger, Safeway, Kraft (Oscar Mayer), Heinz, Campbell Soup, Denny’s, Cracker Barrel, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Sonic, Baja Fresh, Kmart, Compass Group, ARAMARK, Sysco, and Sodexo—have announced that they will eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains.
Nine U.S. states have passed laws to ban the practice, and Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey have bills pending that would do the same.
Pork providers 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.