Burger King Chickens, Pigs To Breathe Free
When PETA made a heart-rending appeal to Michelin CEO to de-list restaurants serving foie gras, it made international news. There is a similar development in offing, from the most unexpected quarters – fast-food chain Burger King has decided to let its chickens and pigs breathe free. Don’t get it wrong – the restaurant is not going vegetarian. It will only give these animals and birds more space to live instead of the battery cages in which they currently live. Howzzat for a start!
1) The 2017 Target
The world’s second biggest burger chain, Burger King, has decided that whatever pork or eggs it will use in its food items will come from chickens and pigs raised in a cage-free environment. It will make sure that this happens 100% by 2017, in hope that it would be able to satisfy the demand of its humane consumers as well as raise its sales. At present, the restaurant chain is using eggs and pork in hundreds of millions and tens of millions of pounds, respectively, each year. As a result, the decision to go cage-free would have a longstanding impact on the supply business and the animals would be raised more humanely, even if they would ultimately be slaughtered. About five years ago, Burger King had become the first major fast-food group to include animal welfare as a clause in its purchase policy. That was when the company first started procuring pork and eggs from suppliers using no cages. The good news is that the company already procures 9% of its eggs and 20% of its pork supplies from cage-free suppliers.
2) A Good Precedent
There is a shift in the American fast food industry towards animal welfare, especially while buying supplies and it is a good precedent, says food industry analyst Phil Lempert. He says, “Even if you’re buying a burger, you want to buy it from someone you like and respect. It’s proven that consumers are willing to pay a little more for fairness, whether it’s to humans or animals.” Animals or birds raised in battery cages suffer rough treatment, which would definitely not appeal to someone biting into a juicy burger. So, the industry is waking up to the possibility of co-existence of fast food with more humane approach to the business. The animal welfare groups are all praise for the Burger King initiative. Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), says, “So many tens of thousands of animals will now be in better living conditions. Numerically, this is significant because Burger King is such a big purchaser of these products.” Vice president of the HSUS, Paul Shapiro is happy that the issue which “just four to five months ago was not on the food industry’s radar” is now “firmly cemented into the mainstream in a way that I think few people would have imagined.”
3) Others Follow Suit
While Burger King’s decision will take upto 2017 to be realized completely, it was an inhumane lawsuit that got its arch-rival McDonald’s into action against its main supplier of pork, Smithfield Farms, for their inhumane treatment of pigs. Another major restaurant, Chipotle, which has more than 1,200 outlets, also announced through a commercial at this year’s Grammy Awards, that it was committed to “humane treatment of animals and healthy food.” Just like McDonald’s, Wendy’s has also directed its pork suppliers to make elaborate plans to eliminate gestation crates from their plan of work and allow the pigs more space. Wal-Mart and Costco are also shifting their egg supplies to cage-free environment while Unilever proudly announced that for 350 million eggs every year, that go into making its Hellmann’s mayonnaise brand, it has opted for a cage-free environment. Others following similar humane approach to their supplies are Sonic, Subway, Ruby Tuesday, Kraft Food, and ConAgra Foods.
Although, even with so many major fast food chains and companies jumping onto the humane bandwagon, the US lags far behind the EU, where, chains like McDonald’s are using 100% cage-free chicken and eggs. This is because the EU laws for animal welfare are stricter than those in the US. Maybe there is a sign for the US government in there! Do you want your McDonald’s burger to be made with 100% cage-free chicken and eggs? Tell your favorite restaurant that and also feel free to write in with your comments.