General Mills has announced that it will eliminate gestation crates - small cages used to confine breeding pigs - from its pork supply chains.
The company stated on its website that “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.”
“Consumers are deeply concerned about inhumane treatment of animals, and General Mills is responding,” stated Josh Balk, corporate policy director of farm animal protection for The Humane Society of the United States. “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 were made recently by Oscar Mayer, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Costco, Safeway, Kroger and nearly 50 other leading food companies.
The HSUS says gestation crates are roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies and designed to prevent them from even turning around. The animals are then transferred into another crate to give birth, 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.
This confinement system has come under fire from veterinarians, farmers, animal welfare advocates, animal scientists, consumers and others.
Renowned animal welfare scientist and advisor to the pork industry, Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is clear on this issue: “Confining an animal for most of its life in a box in which it is not able to turn around does not provide a decent life.”
“We’ve got to treat animals right, and the gestation stalls have got to go.”