September 24, 2012
ConAgra Foods Eliminating Controversial Pig Cages from Supply Chains
The Humane Society of the United States Welcomes Food Company’s Efforts
The Humane Society of the United States applauds the announcement from ConAgra Foods that it will eliminate 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. ConAgra Foods is a Fortune 500 company with net sales totaling more than $13 billion.
“As part of our long-standing commitment to the humane treatment and handling of animals, ConAgra Foods supports the elimination of gestation stall housing for sows,” said ConAgra Foods in a statement. “We are asking our pork suppliers to present actionable plans by 2017 that address both the elimination of gestation stalls and creation of traceability systems within the pork supply chain. We recognize that implementing a phase-out may be a long-term process, and could take up to 10 years .”
“We applaud ConAgra Foods tackling one of the most serious farm animal welfare problems,” stated Josh Balk, corporate policy director of farm animal protection for The HSUS. “This policy makes it even clearer than ever that the cruel gestation crate confinement of pigs will come to an end.”
The similar announcements made recently by Oscar Mayer, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, 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. These 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.
- 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.
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