Burger King to Use Only Cage-Free Eggs, Crate-Free Pork by 2017

by | Apr 26, 2012

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Burger King Corp. has pledged to transition its US supply chain to 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2017, and only purchase pork from suppliers that can demonstrate documented plans to end their use of gestation crates for breeding pigs.

The Humane Society of the United States supports the move, Burger King says. The pressure group said the initiative will improve the lives of “countless farm animals.”

Burger King says it has been increasing the amount of cage-free eggs and gestation crate-free pork in its supply chain since 2007, and was the first major fast food restaurant chain to move towards cage-free eggs. Currently nine percent of the company’s eggs and 20 percent of its pork come from cage-free sources, Fox News reports.

In 2011, the Humane Society recognized Burger King’s animal welfare practices with a Corporate Progress Award.

Burger King’s announcement follows a raft of sustainable sourcing announcements in the fast food industry. Rival chains Wendy’s and McDonald’s announced plans to phase out their use of pork from sow gestation stalls earlier this year. McDonald’s suppliers have been asked to submit their plans for phasing out such processes by May, after which McDonald’s says it will share results and announce its next steps.

Suppliers Smithfield Farms and Hormel also this year announced plans to phase out gestation crates by 2017, The Associated Press reports.

In March, McDonald’s launched Farm Forward, a three-part plan that is to pump £1 million ($1.5 million) into UK and Irish farming. The initiative includes a training program for young farmers; provision of a “carbon calculator” to existing farmers; and funding for research and innovation in the British and Irish agriculture sectors.

Paul Shapiro, the Humane Society’s vice president for farm animal protection, said the that the cage-free issue was “not on the food industry’s radar” just four or five month ago. Indeed, in 2010, McDonald’s rejected a call from the Humane Society for the fast food chain to source five percent of its eggs from cage-free sources. Shapiro says that cage-free food sourcing is now “cemented into the mainstream.”

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