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July 18, 2012

A Quarter Million People Urge Tyson Foods to Reject Controversial Pig Gestation Crates

As More Food Retailers Adopt Anti-Gestation Crate Policies, Consumers Take on Meat Giant for Inaction

  

Through online petitions created by The Humane Society of the United States and consumer advocacy organization SumOfUs, a quarter million people have urged Tyson Foods, the world’s second-largest meat processor and major pork supplier, to develop plans for ending the use of gestation crate confinement of pigs in its supply chain.

The petition follows recent announcements by the nation’s top food companies to eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains. Those companies include McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Costco, Kroger, Safeway, Oscar Mayer, Kraft, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Denny’s, Baja Fresh, Sonic, and Cracker Barrel.

The effort also follows the May 2012 release of undercover footage taken by The HSUS at a pig factory farm that supplied animals to Tyson Foods. Among other abuses, that investigation revealed breeding pigs crammed into gestation crates, piglets kicked like soccer balls and swung in circles by their hind legs, and mother pigs repeatedly beaten when they resisted being separated from their young.

"Individual consumers and major food companies alike have sent the message loud and clear that they don’t support forcing pigs to spend their lives crammed inside cages so small they can’t even turn around," said Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for The HSUS. "Tyson stands to lose both significant business as well as consumer trust if it doesn’t join its competitors and develop plans for a gestation crate-free future."

Other leading pork companies like Smithfield Foods, Hormel and Maple Leaf Foods have stated their company-owned pig breeding operations will be gestation crate-free by 2017, and Cargill’s breeding operations are already 50 percent gestation crate-free. Tyson has no plans to remove gestation crates from its supply chain and continues defending their use.

“People oppose the abuse of animals raised for food, and gestation crates have come to epitomize that cruelty,” said Kaytee Riek, campaign manager at SumOfUs. “The demise of gestation crates has become inevitable, and Tyson should stop lagging behind its competitors and start thinking outside the crate.” 

Facts

  • More than 80 percent of breeding pigs in the U.S. are confined day and night during their four-month pregnancy in gestation crates, cages roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies, preventing them from even turning around. They are then placed into another crate to give birth, are re-impregnated and put back into a gestation crate. This happens pregnancy after pregnancy for their entire lives, adding up to years of virtual immobilization.
  • Nine U.S. states have passed laws to ban the practice and Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey have bills pending that would do the same.
  • Renowned animal welfare scientist and advisor to the pork industry, Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is clear on this issue: “Confining an animal for most of its life in a box in which it is not able to turn around does not provide a decent life.” Grandin further states, “We’ve got to treat animals right, and the gestation stalls have got to go.”

 

Media contacts

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

Emma Pullman, emma@sumofus.org, 778-887-6776

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