McDonald’s Announces End to Gestation Stall Use: NPPC Reaction

McDonald's USA Outlines 10-Year Plan For Ending Gestation Stall Use

(Oak Brook, Ill., May 31, 2012) – Today McDonald's USA shared its ten-year plan to work with its pork suppliers to phase out the use of gestation stalls in its U.S. pork supply. In February, McDonald's USA announced its commitment to work with its pork suppliers to assess the current state of sow housing and to develop next steps for gestation stall phase out.

The goal of McDonald's ten-year plan, which was developed with input from its suppliers, pork producers and animal welfare experts, is to source all pork for its U.S. business from producers that do not house pregnant sows in gestation stalls by the end of 2022.

As an interim step, by 2017, McDonald's will seek to source pork for its U.S. business only from producers who share its commitment to phase out gestation stalls. To achieve this, McDonald's will work with producers and suppliers to develop needed traceability systems that will verify pork sourced from non-gestation stall supply chains and assess how to best support producers migrating away from gestation stalls.

"We value our relationship with our suppliers, and our shared commitment to animal welfare," said Dan Gorsky, senior vice president of McDonald's North America Supply Chain Management. "Our approach seeks to build on the work already in place, and we are also sensitive to the needs of the smaller, independent pork producers in phasing out of gestation stalls."

"This change is complex and will require additional resources. The ten-year timeline that McDonald's has outlined is necessary to research and identify better housing alternatives and ensure proper training of employees," said Dr. Temple Grandin, renowned animal welfare scientist at Colorado State University and member of McDonald's Animal Welfare Council. "This is really good forward thinking, and I commend McDonald's for doing it."

"Any system will have animal welfare concerns, but I see real opportunity for innovation and better alternatives," said Dr. Ed Pajor, professor of animal welfare, University of Calgary and member of McDonald's Animal Welfare Council. "This plan provides a ten-year window for McDonald's producers and suppliers to develop practical and sustainable implementation steps to achieve the phase out of sow gestation stalls."

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NPPC Disappointed With McDonald's Decision

The National Pork Producers Council expressed disappointment with McDonald's decision to move forward with requiring its pork suppliers to phase out the use of individual sow housing. The fast food firm yesterday announced it wants 100 percent of its suppliers to be gestation stall-free in 10 years.

?While we're disappointed with its decision, McDonald's  unlike other food companies did the research to find out how complex this issue is,? said NPPC President R.C. Hunt, a pork producer from Wilson, N.C. At least it discussed its plans with the pork industry and has concerns with the available pork supply from stall-free operations and with the transition away from stalls that would be required of producers.?

NPPC suggested other food companies consider the supply chain realities of the pork industry before making similar decisions.

?We'd be glad to discuss with food companies challenges caused by a transition in production systems,Hunt said. But the bottom line is, regardless of any difficulties, the issue of sow housing is about providing the best care possible for our animals. Individual sow housing allows us an option to give that best care.?

Research has shown that there is no science-based animal welfare benefit to group sow housing over other forms of sow housing. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians recognize gestation stalls and group housing as appropriate for providing for the well-being of sows during pregnancy. NPPC notes that the key factor that most affects animal well-being is husbandry skills that is, the care given to each animal.

Because the overwhelming majority of the country?s nearly 6 million sows spend some time in a stall during the gestation cycle, according to an NPPC estimate, claims by food companies of sourcing a percentage of pork from gestation stall-free operations are misleading and cannot be validated. Most pork packers do not segregate product by sow housing type.


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