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McDonald’s to Phase Out Gestation Crates

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Fast food giant McDonald’s and the Humane Society of the United States have issued a joint statement announcing the company’s intention to get out of the business of gestation crates for breeding sows in the United States.

Gestation crates are cages in which pregnant pigs have no room even to turn around. And since these sows are forced to breed for most of their lives, their entire lives are spent in these cages.

This agreement comes on the heels of an undercover investigation that once again revealed the horror of life as a pig at a factory farm and caused McDonald’s to have to dump one of its primary suppliers.

A few days later, McDonald’s found itself having to dump one of its largest egg suppliers, following an undercover investigation by Mercy for Animals that was broadcast on ABC’s 20/20.

Soon after that, the HSUS reached a deal with the United Egg Producers, the industry’s trade association, that will ask Congress to pass laws that, over the next few years, will modestly increase the size of the cages in which egg-laying hens spend their entire lives.

In today’s statement, McDonald’s says:

“McDonald’s believes gestation stalls are not a sustainable production system for the future. There are alternatives that we think are better for the welfare of sows. McDonald’s wants to see the end of sow confinement in gestation stalls in our supply chain. We are beginning an assessment with our U.S. suppliers to determine how to build on the work already underway to reach that goal. In May, after receiving our suppliers’ plans, we’ll share results from the assessment and our next steps.”

The HSUS says:

“The HSUS has been a long-time advocate for ending the use of gestation crates, and McDonald’s announcement is important and promising. All animals deserve humane treatment, including farm animals, and it’s just wrong to immobilize animals for their whole lives in crates barely larger than their bodies.”

Temple Grandin, who helps factory farms design slaughter facilities that are less frightening to the animals, is also quoted:

“Moving from gestation stalls to better alternatives will improve the welfare of sows and I’m pleased to see McDonald’s working with its suppliers toward that end. It takes a thorough plan to address the training of animal handlers, proper feeding systems, and the significant financial investment and logistics involved with such a big change. I’m optimistic about this announcement.”

Wayne Pacelle, President of the HSUS, writes about the McDonald’s agreement on his blog here.

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