Burger King is the latest fast food giant to announce that it is responding to pressure from animal rights extremists by supporting only cage free facilities.
By the year 2017, Burger King will get all of its eggs and pork from cage-free chickens and pigs. The Humane Society of the United States has been pushing U.S. food corporations to consider animal welfare in purchasing policies. HSUS President Wayne Pacelle says the Burger King announcement is significant because the food chain is such a big purchaser of these products. Burger King uses hundreds of millions of eggs and tens of millions of pounds of pork each year.
The National Pork Producers Council claims that it seems Burger King was bullied by an animal rights group whose ultimate goal is the elimination of food-animal production. NPPC says HSUS has no concern for the hog farmers who care for their pigs every day, for families struggling to purchase food or for the hog farms that likely will go out of business due to its campaign against America’s farmers and ranchers.
NPPC stresses that hog farmers are committed to producing safe, affordable and healthful foods for consumers using industry standards and practices that have been designed with input from veterinarians and other animal-care experts. The Council adds that providing humane and compassionate care for their pigs at every stage of life is one of the ethical principles to which U.S. hog farmers adhere. The group is concerned that Burger King’s decision will significantly increase production costs and eventually consumer prices — and will force hog farmers out of business — leading to more consolidation of the industry with no demonstrable health benefits to sows. NPPC supports the position taken by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians that recognize gestation stalls and group housing systems as appropriate for providing for the well-being of sows during pregnancy.
McDonalds and Wendy’s announced earlier this year that they have asked their pork suppliers to outline their plans for elimination of gestation crates, though they didn’t set a timetable.