Fresh Enterprises, LLC, owner of the Baja Fresh, La Salsa Mexican Grill, and Canyon’s Burger restaurant concepts, announced that it supports industry efforts to move away from gestation crates, and is committed to purchasing pork only from suppliers with documented plans to end their use of gestation crates. The three restaurant chains combined have 279 locations worldwide.
“We believe moving to group housing systems for sows is more humane and sustainable than crate confinement,” says Chuck Rink, Fresh Enterprises’ president and CEO. “Shifting away from gestation crate pork is in line with the commitment of Baja Fresh, La Salsa Mexican Grill, and Canyon’s Burgers to provide the highest quality, freshest food.”
The Humane Society of the United States applauds the company for its announcement.
“Sound science and consumer sentiment support a move away from immobilizing pigs in crates so small they can’t even turn around,” says Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection at The HSUS. “We recognize Baja Fresh, La Salsa Mexican Grill, and Canyon’s Burgers for their forward-thinking announcement, and hope other restaurant companies will follow their example.”
In the pork industry, most mother pigs are confined day and night during their four-month pregnancy in gestation crates, cages roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies, preventing them from even turning around. They are then placed 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.
These controversial cages have come under fire from farmers, animal scientists, and consumers due to animal welfare concerns.