McDonald’s to end sow stalls in 10 years

Reuters / McDonald’s said May 31 that by 2022 it will only buy pork from farmers and other sources that do not use gestation stalls for housing their pregnant sows.

In the shorter term, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based fast-food giant said that it would work with producers and suppliers to develop traceability systems to prove that the meat it buys is not from farms that use such structures.

The company also said that, by 2017, it would seek to source pork for its U.S. business from producers that are also working to phase out such gestation stalls.

McDonald’s, the top U.S. hamburger chain by sales, vowed in February to work with its U.S. pork suppliers to phase out the use of gestation crates, which confine animals during the breeding and post-birth process. The policy shift will apply only to the company’s U.S. business, company officials said.

“We wish the company planned to get rid of these crates tomorrow, but we understand the logistical challenges involved in making such significant improvements,” said Paul Shapiro, vice-president of farm animal protection for the Humane Society of the United States.

McDonald’s said it will take years to shift such production practices in the agricultural industry, in order to ensure that there is enough swine being raised in open-housing in order to meet the volume of pork products that it purchases.

“There are not enough sows housed in non-gestation crates right now. It’s between six and 10 per cent,” said Bob Langert, vice-president of sustainability for McDonald’s. “It can’t supply our needs.”

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P.J. Huffstutter is a reporter for Reuters.

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