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Pork Industry Responds To McDonalds' Announcement

Restaurant plans to transition away from farmers using conventional gestation crates.

On Monday McDonalds made the announcement that development of a plan was underway to switch their pork supply away from farmers using conventional gestation crates.

"McDonald’s believes gestation stalls are not a sustainable production system for the future," said Dan Gorsky, senior vice president for supply chain management for McDonald’s North America. "There are alternatives we think are better for the welfare of sows."

The National Pork Board says that there are numerous ways to provide proper care for sows including gestation crates. That position is echoed by the American Veterinary Medicine Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.

There are advantages and disadvantages to every housing system whether it be gestation stalls, open pens, free access stalls or pastures. The Pork Board maintains that what matters most is the individual care given to each pig regardless of what system is being used.

Peer reviewed research has been conducted in the areas of animal care and food safety by the National Pork Board and they look forward to sharing the results of these studies with McDonalds as they develop the plan to implement the switch.

The National Pork Producers Council is offering assistance to McDonald’s as it assesses sow housing. NPPC believes the announcement reflects the best process for meeting evolving consumer demands – through the market, not through government mandates.

According to NPPC, farmers and animal care experts know that various types of housing systems can provide for the well-being of pigs. After an extensive review of scientific literature, the American Veterinary Medical Association determined that both individual sow housing and group housing can provide for the well-being of sows.

Pork industry customers have expressed a desire to see changes in how pigs are raised. Farmers are responding and modifying their practices accordingly. That process is effective, it is efficient, and doesn’t require an act of Congress. NPPC says producers will continue to meet the ever-changing needs of customers and provide consumers with safe, nutritious and affordable food produced responsibly.

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