Oscar Mayer Sets Timeline for Eliminating Controversial Pig Cages from Pork Supply Chain

The Humane Society of the United States applauds Kraft Foods’ announcement to eliminate gestation crates from Oscar Mayer’s pork supply chain by 2022. Kraft Foods is the world’s second-largest food company and owner of the Oscar Mayer meat brand,  best known for its bacon and hot dog products.

“At Oscar Mayer, we believe quality meat begins with quality animal care. We are committed to finding better ways to keep animals healthy and in a safe environment while treating them with respect,” Sydney Lindner, associate director of corporate affairs for Oscar Mayer, said in a statement released by Kraft. “This is not only important to us, but also to our consumers who care about animal well-being and comfort.”

“Oscar Mayer’s plan for eliminating gestation crates from its supply chain sends a strong message to pork industry leaders who are resisting change,” said Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection at The Humane Society of the United States. “For pigs confined to gestation crates, change can’t come soon enough. Although the company is allowing for a lengthy phase-in of this policy, we’re glad Kraft and Oscar Mayer are on the path to reform and working to improve conditions for pigs.”

In the pork industry, most mother pigs are confined day and night during their four-month pregnancy in gestation crates, cages roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies, preventing them from even turning around. They are then placed 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.

McDonald’s, Burger King, Kroger, Safeway, Wendy’s, Denny’s, Cracker Barrel, Sonic, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Baja Fresh, Compass Group and Sodexo recently announced that they will eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains.
Pork providers Smithfield and Hormel have pledged to end the use of gestation crates at their company-owned facilities by 2017, and Cargill is already 50 percent crate-free. Nine U.S. states have passed laws to ban the practice and Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey have bills pending that would do the same. Renowned animal welfare scientist and advisor to the pork industry, Dr. Temple Grandin, 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.”