By Margaret Badore for DietsInReview.com
This week, McDonald’s stated that they will be requiring all U.S. pork suppliers to stop using hog crates and gestation stalls. These crates are cages that tightly confine an animal’s movements, preventing them from being able to turn around and in some cases to walk at all. Gestation crates are used to keep pregnant sows separate from one another and preventing aggressive behavior.
Wayne Pacelle, the Humane Society’s CEO, says the move will have “seismic impact” on animal welfare, and that the choice not only demonstrates that abandoning the use of hog crates is morally right but also economically feasible.
McDonald’s is one of the largest buyers of pork products in the United States, with offerings like the McRib and various sausage sandwiches. The fast food company accounts for about one percent of the total pork consumption in the country.
Other restaurant chains have moved away from suppliers who use gestation crates, including Wendy’s, Hardee’s and Burger King. Chipotle Mexican Grill has ended all relationships with suppliers using the crates, as illustrated in this moving commercial that aired during the Grammy’s.
Many pork suppliers in turn have made steps to reduce the use of hog crates, particularly as animal welfare groups have been pushing for legislation banning them. Cargill says it has already adopted group pens for pregnant sows, while Smithfield Foods and Hormel Foods say they will get rid of gestation crates by 2017.
Regardless of your stance on the McRib, fast food or eating meat at all, getting corporations like McDonald’s to push for less cruelty in the livestock industry can be a huge force for good. However, given the large number of other ethical and health problems with the commercial meat industry, abandoning hog crates seems like a drop in the bucket. If only they would demand more.