The Humane Society of the United States prefers a shorter time frame but still welcomes news from McDonald’s that the company has created a definite timetable to eliminate gestation crate confinement of breeding pigs from its pork supply chain.
The 10-year timeline announcement came as a follow up to McDonald’s announcement in February that it would phase out the use of the cruel crates and announce its next steps in May.
Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for The HSUS, released the following statement:
“The Humane Society of the United States is pleased that McDonald’s has set a definite timeline to eliminate gestation crate confinement of pigs in its supply chain. These cages are so cramped, the animals are unable even to turn around, essentially immobilized and lined up like parked cars for virtually their entire lives.
“We wish the company planned to get rid of these crates tomorrow, but we understand the logistical challenges involved in making such significant improvements.
“The move by McDonald's further shows that gestation crate confinement has no place in the pork industry’s future. Rather than defending the perpetual confinement of pigs in cages barely larger than their own bodies, pork industry leaders should listen to the public and their largest customers, like McDonald's, by actively converting to higher welfare group housing systems.”
In the pork industry, most mother pigs are confined day and night during their four-month pregnancy in gestation crates, two-foot by seven-foot 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.
Eight states have already passed laws to ban this inhumane practice and other states have bills pending to do the same. Major pork producers like Smithfield and Hormel have also announced an elimination of gestation crates in all company-owned facilities by 2017. Cargill is already 50 percent gestation crate-free.
Compass Group, the biggest food service provider in the world, has adopted a 2017 deadline for being gestation crate-free, and other major retailers like Burger King, Safeway, Wendy's, and Denny's have announced plans to become gestation crate-free.