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February 13, 2012

McDonald’s Moving to End Gestation Crates

It’s the biggest and perhaps best-known restaurant chain in the world. And today, in a joint statement with The HSUS, it announced its intention to get out of the business of gestation crates for breeding sows in the United States. McDonald’s declared that it “wants to see the end of sow confinement in gestation stalls in our U.S. supply chain” and further notes that “there are alternatives that we think are better for the welfare of sows.”

This is a bit of an earthquake in the world of pork industry, with aftershocks that will be felt throughout the entire food retail sector. McDonald’s movement away from gestation crates is the latest acknowledgement from food sellers that extreme confinement practices have to go.

A pig in a gestation crate
The HSUS

It all started nearly a decade ago in Florida, when voters made their state the first in the nation to ban gestation crates for breeding pigs. Since then, seven more states―two by initiative and several via negotiated agreement between The HSUS and agriculture groups―have enacted laws to phase out the use of small metal cages that don’t allow the sows room even to turn around.

Today’s announcement came after years of dialogue between The HSUS and McDonald’s. And it comes just two months after Smithfield Foods, the largest pork producer in the world, recommitted to its pledge that it would phase out crates in its company-owned operations by 2017, and just a week after Hormel announced it would do the same, too.

From the early days of the Florida campaign to this latest announcement from McDonald’s, countless animal advocates have toiled to shine a bright light on the routine abuse that crated pigs are forced to endure. That struggle has yielded significant results for animals and made today’s progress possible. Everyone who has worked to give a voice to breeding pigs should take pride in this advancement.

We at The HSUS look forward to continuing our dialogue with McDonald’s, and to reporting more about the company’s progress in the months to come.

P.S. Please join the conversation about this news on my Facebook page.

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