McDonald’s Corporation’s pork suppliers to improve conditions for pigs

McDonald's Corp. has announced it will produce its sausage McMuffins, breakfast platters and McRib sandwiches more ethically. The fast-food chain said today it will require its pork suppliers to phase out gestation stalls that are barely larger than the pigs that are confined within them, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

“There are alternatives that we think are better for the welfare of sows,” Dan Gorsky, McDonald’s senior vice president of North America supply-chain management, said in a statement today, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

Earlier this month, the Oakbrook, Ill.-based company said it would no longer use ammonium hydroxide, or "pink slime,” in its hamburgers.

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According to MarketWatch:

Gestation stalls are narrow two-feet-wide cages used to confine breeding sows, which bear offspring that are slaughtered to make breakfast sausage and other pork products, according to Paul Shapiro, a spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States. The cages, which Shapiro said are so small that sows cannot turn around in them, only allow the animals to stand up or sit down.

Gorsky said that some of the company’s largest pork suppliers, including Smithfield Farms and Cargill, have already begun phasing out the pens, the New York Times reported.

The Humane Society of the United States cheered the news, MarketWatch reported. "The HSUS has been a long-time advocate for ending the use of gestation crates, and McDonald's announcement is important and promising," Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the group, said, according to MarketWatch.

However, McDonald’s, which purchases about 1 percent of the US pork supply, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, is not exactly ahead of the curve. Burger King reduced its purchases of pork produced in facilities that use gestation crates in 2007, the New York Times reported. And Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. has required its pork suppliers to raise pigs outside or in large cages for the past 11 years, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

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