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April 3, 2013

Tim Hortons Eliminating Controversial Pig Cages from Supply Chain

The HSUS and HSI/Canada applaud restaurant giant’s animal welfare progress

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Good news for pigs. istock

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International/Canada praised Oakville, Ontario-based Tim Hortons—which has more than 4,000 restaurant locations across Canada and the U.S.—for its newly-announced policy to eliminate controversial gestation crates from its pork supply chain.

Gestation crates are cages used to tightly confine breeding pigs to the point the animals can’t even turn around.

Tim Hortons’ new corporate responsibility report states: “We consulted with our suppliers, the pork industry and other stakeholders on the use of gestation stalls for breeding sows and reviewed their plans throughout 2012. By 2022, we will source pork from suppliers who have made a transition to alternative open housing.”

Matt Prescott, food policy director for farm animal protection for The HSUS, said: “We applaud Tim Hortons for addressing one of the most critical animal welfare issues in food production today. Tim Hortons’ move supports the food industry’s rejection of gestation crates as irresponsible, unsustainable and inhumane.”

Sayara Thurston, campaigner with HSI/Canada, said: “By moving away from the use of gestation crates, it is clear that major retailers are listening to the concerns of their consumers. As the National Farm Animal Care Council reviews the Canadian Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs, the Code Development Committee must take in to account the wishes of dozens of leading retailers and include a timeline for the complete elimination of gestation crates from the Canadian pork industry.”

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.

Tim Hortons’ announcement comes at a time when the Canadian pork industry is reviewing and revising its Codes of Practice and considering a nationwide phase-out of gestation crates. Referring to this process, the Tim Hortons corporate responsibility report stated: “Further, we will work with the pork industry and governments to advance standardized approaches and codes resulting in more humane and sustainable open housing systems.”


  • 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 North American pork producers Smithfield, Hormel, Olymel and Maple Leaf Foods have pledged to end the use of gestation crates at their company-owned facilities. Meanwhile, many family farmers have been raising pigs without the use of gestation crates for generations.
  • Nine U.S. states and the European Union have passed laws to ban the gestation crate confinement of breeding pigs.


Media Contact: Dean Pogas, HSI Canada: 514-395-2914

Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI/Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International—one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than ten million members and constituents globally—on the Web at hsicanada.ca.

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