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October 18, 2012

The Humane Society of the United States Wins BENNY Awards for Campaign to End Cruel Confinement of Farm Animals

The Humane Society of the United States has been honored by The Business Ethics Network, which celebrates outstanding contributions to the advancement of corporate ethics, with two awards – The Path to Victory and the Populist Category Path to Victory – for its campaign to end cruel confinement of farm animals.

The BENNY Awards honor The HSUS’ accomplishments in partnering with some of the world’s largest food companies to eliminate the use of pig gestation crates in their supply chains, including McDonald’s, Compass Group, Burger King and Wendy’s.

“Socially responsible companies are recognizing that animal welfare is an important part of business ethics,” said Kristie Middleton, manager of corporate policy of farm animal protection for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States is honored to receive the BENNY Awards and hopes that next year we’ll have worked with many more companies to announce an end to the lifelong immobilization of pigs in cramped cages within their supply chains.”

The announcements from more than 30 major food companies in the past nine months 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 pregnancies. These cages are roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies and designed to prevent them from even turning around. Breeding 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. Gestation crate confinement systems have come under fire from veterinarians, farmers, animal welfare advocates, animal scientists, consumers and others.

Since its BENNY Award nomination, The HSUS has persuaded additional major food companies like Costco, Kroger, Safeway, ConAgra Foods, Oscar Mayer, Hillshire Brands, Sysco, ARAMARK, Sodexo and many more to announce policies to eliminate gestation crates from their pork supplies.

Gestation Crates Facts:

  • Nine U.S. states have banned the practice and others have bills pending that would outlaw gestation crates.

  • 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.”

  • An Iowa State University economic study concluded that breeding pigs in groups, rather than individual crates, can save pork producers up to 11 percent on costs.

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

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