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The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has pledged its support of Minneapolis-based General Mills’ decision to eliminate gestation crates—small cages used to confine breeding pigs—from its pork supply chains.
“General Mills supports the development of pregnant sow housing alternatives” to gestation crates, while acknowledging “that the development and implementation of alternative systems may be a long-term process that could take up to 10 years,” the company said on its website. General Mills further stated that it “will favor pork suppliers that provide actionable plans by 2017 to create traceability and end their use of gestation crates within the U.S. pork supply chain.”
“Consumers are deeply concerned about inhumane treatment of animals, and General Mills is responding,” said Josh Balk, corporate policy director of farm animal protection for The HSUS. “We welcome General Mills’ important animal welfare progress and hope the pork industry can read the writing on the wall: gestation crates don’t have a future in the pork industry.”
Similar announcements made recently by Oscar Mayer, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Costco, Safeway, Kroger and nearly 50 other leading food companies signal a reversal in a 30-year trend in the pork industry that leaves most breeding pigs confined day and night in gestation crates during their four-month pregnancy.
The confinement system has come under fire from veterinarians, farmers, animal welfare advocates, animal scientists, consumers and others. Thus far, nine U.S. states have passed laws to ban gestation crate confinement for breeding pigs.