U.S. suppliers of pork to fast-food giant McDonald’s have been given four months to present plans to phase out the use of sow gestation stalls in their hog barns.
“McDonald’s believes gestation stalls are not a sustainable production system for the future,” Dan Gorsky, the senior vice-president of North America supply chain management for the Illinois-based company, said in a release Monday. “There are alternatives that we think are better for the welfare of sows.”
McDonald’s, he said, is “beginning an assessment with our U.S. suppliers to determine how to build on the work already underway to reach that goal. In May, after receiving our suppliers’ plans, we’ll share results from the assessment and our next steps.”
Several of the company’s U.S. suppliers are already in the process of adopting “commercially viable alternatives” for penning of gestating sows, he added, naming Cargill and Smithfield Foods as examples of companies making “significant progress in this area.”
It’s not yet known how or if the parent company’s move would affect the pork supply chain for McDonald’s Canadian arm. A call to its head office in Toronto was not immediately returned Monday.
Canadian pork processors such as Maple Leaf Foods have made similar moves, as have organizations such as the Manitoba Pork Council, which last year pledged to eliminate such stalls in the province’s hog barns in the next 15 years.