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January 14, 2010

HSUS Becomes Steak ‘n Shake Shareholder

As part of its efforts encouraging Steak 'n Shake (NYSE: SNS) to implement the types of basic animal welfare changes many of its competitors have made, The Humane Society of the United States announced Thursday that it has purchased stock in the restaurant chain.

The HSUS intends to use its stockholder position to move the company toward moving away from eggs from caged hens, pork from crated pigs, and poultry from producers that use a particularly cruel but standard method of slaughter that involves shackling fully-conscious birds upside down and running them through electrified water before cutting their throats.

"Steak 'n Shake's complete lack of meaningful movement on animal welfare puts the company at odds with its competition and public opposition to farm animal abuse," stated Matthew Prescott, corporate outreach director for The HSUS's factory farming campaign. "As a shareholder, The HSUS hopes to work with the company on making meaningful animal welfare reforms to benefit animals and shareholders alike."

National restaurant chains—including Burger King, Red Robin, Wendy's, Quiznos, Denny's, Hardee's and Carl's Jr.—have already created policies to move away from supporting some of the worst abuses of farm animals. Many supermarket chains have taken similar steps, including Harris Teeter, Winn-Dixie, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Safeway.

Indianapolis-based Steak 'n Shake has 500 restaurants in 20 states.

Facts

  • Food industry consulting firm Technomic found that animal welfare is the third-most important social issue to American restaurant patrons, outranking the environment.
  • 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. 
  • Seven states, including most recently California and Michigan, have passed laws to phase out the extreme confinement of certain farm animals.
  • Studies have shown that not confining animals in cages or crates, and that using CAK, may also improve food safety.

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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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