October 3, 2012
Big Progress for Pigs in 2012
Major companies are standing up for pigs by eliminating gestation crates
The first half of 2012 has seen significant advancements for pigs, both in Canada and the United States. Major food companies like Safeway, Costco, Kroger, Wendy’s, Denny’s, Campbell Soup, Oscar Mayer, Sonic, Baja Fresh, Sodexo, and Sysco, have all committed to end the use of cruel gestation crates in their entire North American supply chains.
In May 2012, Tim Hortons, Canada’s largest fast food service operator, called on its suppliers—as well as the entire Canadian pork industry—to devise clear plans for eliminating gestation crates, saying the company believes in more humane and sustainable housing systems for sows.
In Canada, most mother pigs are currently confined in these gestation crates, which are so restrictive, they keep the animals virtually immobilized for almost their entire lives. It has become increasingly clear that this abuse is unacceptable to consumers, and that pork producers must transition to better housing systems. The corporate policies announced in 2012 have made the writing on the wall even clearer: keeping pigs cruelly confined in cages so small they can’t even turn around has no future in the pork industry.
In the United States, where the practice is also industry standard, major companies—including McDonald’s, SUBWAY, ARAMARK, Compass Group, Burger King, Cracker Barrel, Bon Appetit—have all stood up for pigs this year by pledging eliminate these crates from their U.S. supply chains.
The incredible progress for pigs in the past few months adds to that of recent years–with major pork producers Smithfield and Maple Leaf Foods both committing to end their use of gestation crates at company-owned facilities by 2017.
There is potential for even more good news for Canadian sows this year: with the federal Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs being updated, the industry has the opportunity to improve life for the more than one million mother sows housed in Canada by setting an ambitious timeline to phase-out the use of gestation crates nationwide.
Standards for farm animals around the world are improving fast, and Canada can join this progress by producing a Code of Practice that will not be out of date before its ink is even dry. Keeping up with corporate and consumer demands for improved treatment of farm animals means getting gestation crates out of the Canadian pork industry.
HSI/Canada has been pleased to see a positive and constructive tone from the Code Development Committee’s progress reports, and will continue to work with industry stakeholders to improve the welfare of breeding sows in Canada.
Live in Canada? Speak out for mother pigs!