Farm animal welfare is getting a lot of attention from the restaurant industry these days and rightly so. A report put out this month by Technomic, a food industry trade publication, indicated that 73 percent of consumers see claims of “humanely raised” as significant to their purchasing decisions. Recognizing the importance of reducing the suffering of animals raised to produce their sausage, bacon, and eggs, Burger King Corp., the second largest burger chain in the country, announced a sweeping new animal welfare policy today. The company will, within five years, ensure the pork, bacon, and eggs it uses do not come from mother pigs who were confined in gestation crates or hens confined in tiny battery cages.
While some companies have taken small steps to move away from eggs produced from hens in tiny cages, Burger King is the first major company in the U.S. to make a commitment of this scale. Operating more than 12,500 locations worldwide, Burger King Corp. wields a lot of purchasing power. Commitments like this one and those being made by other major fast food companies like McDonald’s and Wendy’s are sure to bring suppliers to the table to stop the practice of confining animals in spaces so small they can’t even turn around for virtually their entire lives.
“Burger King Corp. has demonstrated when it comes to America’s largest fast food chains, it continues to set the standard,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS in a news release. “These changes by Burger King Corp. will improve life for countless farm animals and encourage other companies to abide by animal welfare principles up and down their supply chain.”
The companies dragging their heels on making improvements are failing to recognize that there’s more to the bottom line than dollars and cents. Smarter customers don’t support the lifelong confinement of animals in small crates and cages and they’re going to start asking questions. It would be wise for companies to start thinking outside the crate.