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January 15, 2010

Sonic Hatches New Animal Welfare Policy

Oklahoma City-based Sonic Corp.—which operates 3,500 restaurants in more than 40 states—announced a new animal welfare policy Friday, garnering praise from The Humane Society of the United States. 

Sonic's new policy will result in the company phasing-in the use of cage-free eggs as well as pork from facilities that do not confine breeding pigs in gestation crates. The policy also encourages Sonic's chicken suppliers to switch to controlled-atmosphere killing, a higher-welfare poultry slaughter method than the common practice of shackling and electrified water stunning.

"By starting to use eggs from hens not confined in cruel battery cages and pork from pigs not crammed into tiny gestation crates, Sonic has taken an important first step forward for animal welfare," said Paul Shapiro, senior director of The HSUS' factory farming campaign. "We applaud Sonic for beginning to address animal welfare and look forward to further progress from the company."

Many other national restaurant chains—including Burger King, Red Robin, Wendy's, Quiznos, Denny's, Hardee's and Carl's Jr.—have created similar animal welfare policies.

In a landslide 2008 vote, nearly 64 percent of California voters passed the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, phasing out battery cage, gestation crate, and veal crate confinement statewide. And last fall, Michigan's governor signed similar legislation.

Facts

  • About 95 percent of egg-laying hens and 70 percent of breeding sows in the United States are confined in cages and crates so small the animals can barely move for their entire lives. Extensive scientific research confirms this causes suffering.
  • Controlled-atmosphere killing has been shown to reduce suffering during poultry slaughter, and it is currently used to slaughter roughly 75 percent of turkeys and 35 percent of chickens in the United Kingdom. Seven U.S. turkey slaughterhouses use the method. 

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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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