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August 30, 2012

Harris Teeter Strengthens Animal Welfare Commitments, Will Eliminate Controversial Pig Cages from Pork Supply Chain

The Humane Society of the United States Applauds Grocery Chain’s Work

Harris Teeter Supermarkets has announced new commitments to improve animal welfare in its supply chain, including the elimination of gestation crates from its pork supply. The company has more than 200 locations and annual sales above $4 billion.

“Harris Teeter knows that there are better, more humane, and more sustainable ways to

breed pigs than by using gestation crates,” states the company in the new Animal Welfare section of its website. “It is Harris Teeter’s goal to have a gestation crate-free pork supply, and the company is committed to working with its suppliers…to accomplish that goal within a reasonable timeframe.”

The Humane Society of the United States supports Harris Teeter’s progress: “Harris Teeter has demonstrated time after time its commitment to improving animal welfare in its supply chain,” stated Matthew Prescott, food policy director for The HSUS. “Americans don’t want pigs confined in tiny cages so small they can’t even turn around, and Harris Teeter’s work to eliminate that practice is commendable.”

The similar announcements made recently by Kroger, Safeway, Costco, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, SUBWAY, Oscar Mayer and other leading food companies signal a reversal in a three-decade-old trend in the pork industry that leaves most mother pigs confined day and night in gestation crates during their four-month pregnancy. These cages are roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies and prevent them from even turning around. Mother pigs are subsequently transferred into another crate to give birth, 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. This confinement system has come under fire from veterinarians, farmers, animal welfare advocates, animal scientists, consumers and others.

Facts

  • Nine U.S. states have passed laws to ban the gestation crate confinement of mother pigs.
  • 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.”
  • Leading pork producers Smithfield and Hormel have pledged to end the use of gestation crates at their company-owned facilities by 2017, and Cargill is already 50 percent crate-free.

Media Contact: Anna West, awest@humanesociety.org, 240-751-2669

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