Last November we reported that Smithfield, the world's top pork producer, had recommitted to phasing out gestation-crate confinement at all of its facilities by 2017. Soon they could have incentive phase the questionable practice out more quickly.
McDonald's announced yesterday a new initiative to phase out the use of gestation crates by its pork suppliers. The move is considered significant by the Humane Society of the United States because it is the first time a restaurant of this size has taken a comprehensive stance against a farming practice animal rights activists regard as inhumane.
McDonald's is the largest restaurant company in the country, and its bacon, sausage and ham sandwiches make it one of the biggest pork consumers in America. About 70 percent of the 6 million breeding pigs in the US are kept in crates so small their movement is completely restricted.
According to the announcement, suppliers are required to submit a detailed plan that demonstrates how they intend to remove gestation crates from their supply chain. McDonald's plans to review those documents in May and then announce its own plan to completely remove gestation crate pork products from its menus.
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"This is really a bit of an earthquake in the pork industry," said Paul Shapiro, a spokesperson for the Humane Society, who praised McDonald's action. "It sends a clear message that there is no future in gestation crate confinement."