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April 20, 2012

The Humane Society of the United States to Address Seaboard Execs at Shareholder Meeting about Extreme Confinement of Pigs

Pork Giant Lags Behind Competitors on Animal Welfare

At the annual shareholder meeting of Seaboard Foods (NYSE: SEB) on Monday, a representative of The Humane Society of the United States will challenge the company about the extreme confinement of breeding pigs in its pork supply. Seaboard is the nation’s third-largest pork producer.

Nearly all breeding pigs raised by Seaboard and its contractors are confined day and night during their four-month pregnancies in gestation crates: cages barely larger than the pigs’ own bodies, preventing the animals even from turning around. The pigs are placed into another crate to give birth and then re-impregnated and put back into a gestation crate. This cycle repeats, pregnancy after pregnancy, for the animals’ entire lives.

The HSUS’ action follows three months of widely-publicized progress on this issue, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Compass Group, the world’s largest foodservice provider, and other major companies publicly committing to get gestation crates out of their supply chains. Of McDonald’s announcement, meat industry trade publication, Meatingplace wrote, “Game over. For any pork producer still on the fence, the McDonald's announcement makes the move inevitable, whether or not they are a McD's supplier.”

“Seaboard forces pigs to live in crates so small they can’t even turn around for nearly their entire lives,” said Josh Balk, director of corporate policy for The HSUS. “It’s time for Seaboard to recognize that consumers don’t support this animal abuse and finally join its competition in committing to get rid of gestation crates.”

Seaboard competitors have already announced plans to move away from gestation crates. Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, and Hormel announced they will be 100 percent gestation crate-free for company-owned operations within five years and Cargill is already 50 percent gestation crate-free.

The Seaboard Foods Inc. annual shareholder meeting takes place Monday, April 23 at 9 a.m. at The Westin Waltham, 70 3rd Ave., Waltham, Mass. 

Gestation Crates Facts:

  • Measuring about 2 feet by 7 feet, gestation crates virtually immobilize pigs for almost their entire lives, leading to health problems including infections, sores and mental stress.
  • Eight U.S. states and the European Union have passed laws to outlaw gestation crates.
  • Extensive scientific research confirms that this confinement causes suffering. Dr. Temple Grandin—a renowned animal scientist and Seaboard Foods advisor—states, “I feel very strongly that we've got to treat animals right, and the gestation stalls have got to go.”

 

Media Contact:

Anna West, awest@humanesociety.org, 301-258-1518

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