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September 27, 2012

Chili's Moves to Take Gestation Crates off the Menu

Chain joins growing list of restaurants pledging to treat pigs and other animals more humanely

Watch our Webby Award-winning video expose of the suffering of pigs in gestation crates.

Brinker International, owner of the Chili’s restaurant chain, has announced that it will work toward eliminating controversial gestation crates—cages used to confine breeding pigs—from its pork supply chain, becoming the latest in a growing list of major food companies to address this issue. The Humane Society of the United States supports Brinker’s progress.

Not just Chili's

In addition to the more than 1,500 Chili’s Grill & Bar locations, the Dallas-based company also owns and operates Maggiano’s Little Italy and has a stake in Romano’s Macaroni Grill. Brinker’s new animal welfare policy applies to the pork for all of its restaurants.

Help pigs—sign the Progress for Pigs pledge now

Brinker's goals

“Brinker acknowledges there are various ways to achieve our animal welfare beliefs…including phasing out gestation stalls. We are working with our pork suppliers to do this, which will take time to implement,” stated Brinker International in a statement posted on its website today.

As a short term goal, the company also notes that over the next five to seven years it will “ensure a substantial majority of our pork products are sourced from vendors who have committed to eliminating gestation stalls from farms they operate.”

It's good business

“We welcome Brinker’s work to improve conditions for pigs and applaud the company for addressing this pressing concern,” stated Matthew Prescott, food policy director for The HSUS’s farm animal protection department. “Americans don’t support the lifelong confinement of animals in cages so small they can’t even turn around, and for Brinker to move away from that abuse represents both a wise business move and an ethical decision.”

Part of a humane trend

Similar announcements made recently by McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Oscar Mayer, Costco, Safeway, Kroger and other leading food companies signal a reversal in a three-decade-old trend in the pork industry that leaves most breeding pigs confined day and night in gestation crates during their four-month pregnancy.

What are gestation crates?

Gestation cages are roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies and designed to prevent them from even turning around. The animals 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, Dr. Temple Grandin, 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, 301-258-1518

 

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