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January 19, 2010

Companies Make Progress for Farm Animals, Others Stall

Farm animal issues are getting more and more attention in the marketplace—and that's great news all the way around. The HSUS recently announced that we’ve been working with Compass Group—the world’s largest food service company—to launch the company’s “Be a Flexitarian” initiative, which encourages its vast customer base to eat more meatless meals and ensures that Compass’ 8,500 cafeterias worldwide have a variety of tasty vegetarian options available. In the same vein, Chipotle recently increased its vegetarian offerings by testing a delicious meat alternative in certain locations in D.C. and New York.

Ad for Compass' “Be a Flexitarian” initiative
Compass Group
An ad for Compass' “Flexitarian” initiative.

We also publicly praised Sonic—which has 3,500 fast food outlets nationwide—for beginning to phase-in eggs and pork from suppliers that don’t cram their animals into tiny cages and crates, as well as for pressuring its chicken suppliers to switch to a method of slaughter that causes significantly less suffering than the standard method. Similarly, The HSUS recently put our public campaign against IHOP on moratorium when the company agreed to start using some cage-free eggs in all of its 1,400 restaurants.

While companies like Compass Group, Sonic, and IHOP have taken steps to improve the lives of farm animals in the United States, other companies have refused to make progress. Last week, The HSUS was in the news for purchasing shares in two such companies: Jack in the Box and Steak ‘n Shake. Despite most of these companies’ top competitors—including Burger King, Denny’s, Wendy’s, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Quiznos and Red Robin (in addition to IHOP and Sonic)—having made animal improvements, Jack in the Box and Steak ‘n Shake remain stagnant on the issue. We’ll use our position as a stockholder to try and change that by attending the companies’ annual meetings and submitting shareholder resolutions calling on them to make changes. We also continue pressuring Waffle House and Bob Evans to make meaningful improvements for animals.

We’re also pressing ahead on the public policy front, but the decisions by corporations on food purchasing practices affect the lives of billions of animals raised for food. We’re conscious of that, and making the case for improved treatment to these corporate leaders.

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