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The Humane Society of the United States supports Costco’s recent announcement that it’s calling on its pork suppliers to eliminate their confinement of pigs in gestation crates by 2022.
“We want all of the hogs throughout our pork supply chain to be housed in groups…and expect that this transition should be accomplished no later than 2022,” wrote Doug Schutt, Costco’s EVP of merchandising in a letter sent to the company’s pork suppliers. “All of us at Costco take animal welfare seriously and consider humane animal handling a business imperative.”
According to the Humane Society, in the pork industry, the vast majority of mother pigs are confined day and night during their four-month pregnancy in gestation crates, cages roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies that prevent them from even turning around. They are then placed into another crate to give birth, are 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.
Costco’s decision follows discussions with animal welfare group Mercy For Animals about undercover video taken by the organization at a gestation crate pig confinement facility supplying pork to Costco stores, as well as after discussions with The HSUS.
Since February, other major retailers—including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Kroger, Safeway, Kraft (Oscar Mayer), Heinz, Denny’s, Cracker Barrel, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Sonic, Baja Fresh, Kmart, Compass Group and Sodexo—have 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. In addition, 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.