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October 14, 2009

IHOP and DineEquity Face SEC, FTC Complaints Over False Animal Welfare Claims

Today, The Humane Society of the United States filed complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission and Federal Trade Commission regarding false and misleading statements IHOP, and its parent company DineEquity, Inc. (DineEquity), are making on IHOP's and DineEquity's Web sites regarding animal cruelty in IHOP's supply chain.

"The only thing more jarring than IHOP's false statements is the amount of animal cruelty in its supply chain," stated Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "It's time for IHOP to follow the lead of its competitors and start purchasing and selling cage-free eggs."

Last month, The HSUS launched a national campaign publicly urging IHOP to move away from exclusively purchasing eggs from hens confined in cages — a modest step that many of the company's competitors (including Denny's, Burger King and Wendy's) have already taken.

In the first few days of the campaign, tens of thousands of people urged the company to move away from only purchasing eggs from caged hens. In response, IHOP issued a statement making — as The HSUS' complaints contend — false and misleading statements to the public regarding the way animals in its supply chain are treated, including that its food is "cruelty free."

As The HSUS' complaints outline, the battery cages used to produce eggs for IHOP are inherently cruel, providing each hen less space than a single sheet of paper to live on for her entire life. This extreme confinement practice is so cruel that IHOP's home state of California has criminalized the use of battery cages in egg production (effective 2015); this week, Michigan enacted a similar law.

The complaints also note that just last month, IHOP's egg supplier, Michael Foods, was the subject of an undercover exposé that revealed shocking abuses including hens forced to live in cages with decomposing corpses, sick and injured hens and severe food safety concerns. The footage mirrored a 2006 HSUS exposé of Michael Foods.

The complaints ask the SEC and FTC to take prompt action to stop IHOP and its parent company DineEquity, Inc. from making false and misleading claims that it provides "cruelty-free" food produced according to "dignified, humane" animal care standards. 

For more information on The HSUS' campaign, visit humanesociety.org/ihop.

Facts:

  • Major restaurant chains like Denny's, Burger King, Wendy's, Quiznos, Red Robin, Hardee's and Carl's Jr. have already started using some cage-free eggs.
  • In November 2008, in IHOP's home state of California, nearly two-thirds of voters passed the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, which bans battery cages throughout the state (with a phase-out).
  • U.S. factory farms confine about 280 million hens in barren battery cages so cramped, they can't even spread their wings. Each bird has less space than a sheet of paper her entire life. Scientific research confirms the welfare problems with battery cages.
  • Cage-free hens generally have two to three times more space per bird than caged hens. Cage-free hens may not be able to go outside and may have parts of their beaks cut off, but they can walk, spread their wings and lay their eggs in nests — all behaviors permanently denied to hens crammed into battery cages.

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Follow The HSUS on Twitter.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — on the web at humanesociety.org. 

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