The Humane Society of the United States described the new policy’s phase-in period as “lengthy,” but said that it applauds Kraft Foods’ decision to help improve conditions for its pigs.
In the pork industry, most sows are confined during their four-month pregnancy in gestation crates, cages roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies, preventing them from turning around. They are then placed into another crate to give birth, re-impregnated, and put back into a gestation crate.
Kraft Foods’ announcement follows several other restaurants and food companies’ decisions to ban the practice.
McDonald’s, Burger King, Kroger, Safeway, Wendy’s, Denny’s, Cracker Barrel, Sonic, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Baja Fresh, Compass Group and Sodexo have also announced that they will eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains.
Pork providers Smithfield Foods and Hormel have pledged to end the use of gestation crates at their company-owned facilities by 2017. Smithfield’s pledge followed a legal complaint by the Humane Society alleging that the pork supplier claimed to have higher animal welfare and environmental standards than it actually did.
Pork supplier Cargill is already 50 percent crate-free.
According to the Humane Society, nine US states have passed laws to ban the practice – the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida lists these as Florida, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, California, Maine, Michigan, Ohio and Rhode Island – and Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey have bills pending that would do the same.