Sysco, the world's largest broadline food distributor, is the latest to join the ranks of other restaurant chains and organizations that have pledged to stop using pork from distributors who use gestation crates.
In a release posted online Monday, the Humane Society applauded the move. It also included a statement from Sysco:
Sysco takes its role as a responsible corporate citizen in the food supply chain seriously. We use science-based standards for animal welfare and work diligently with our suppliers to ensure humane treatment of animals. We also listen closely to our customers desires. Although there are many ways to house sows, several customers and suppliers have expressed their desire to eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains.
Sysco went on to promise it would work with its suppliers to end the use of gestation crates. A timeline is still to be determined.
The issue of gestation crates has inspired much controversy and debate in the last few months, with high profile companies like McDonald's and Burger King disavowing them. The crates are commonly used to confine pregnant pigs, but are so small that the animal is unable to move. A pig will spend its entire pregnancy in the crate. Since they are usually re-impregnated immediately after giving birth, some animals will spend their entire lives in a such a living condition.
Sysco is a huge get for the movement to ban gestation crates. It raked in $40 billion in sales last year and serves 400,000 customers worldwide.
See other companies that have promised to stop using gestation crates in the gallery below.
In September, Dunkin' Donuts announced that it plans to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/26/dunkin-donuts-cage-free-eggs-gestation_n_1916260.html?1348678200" target="_hplink">eliminate all gestation crates</a>, but has not set a timeline. It is also moving toward cage-free eggs.
At the end of May, the country's leading hamburger chain by sales announced a plan to eliminate its suppliers' use of gestation crates by 2022.
On May 15, Denny's announced it would work with its suppliers to end the use of gestation crates for its pork products.
In May, Safeway -- the country's second-largest grocery chain -- said it plans to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20120507/us-safeway-humane-pork/" target="_hplink">stop buying meat</a> from suppliers that use gestation crates.
On April 23, Burger King pledged to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/25/burger-king-gestation-crates_n_1451703.html" target="_hplink">eliminate the use of pork from pigs raised in crates by 2017</a>. The company also pledged to offer entirely cage-free eggs by 2017.
In March, Wendy's announced it would work with its U.S. and Canadian pork suppliers to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/23/wendys-animal-treatment_n_1375724.html" target="_hplink">phase out the use of gestation crates</a>.
Also in March, Compass Group announced it would <a href="http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/blog/going_green/2012/03/compass-group-will-end-contracts-with.html" target="_hplink">phase out the use of meat from pigs raised in gestation crates</a> by 2017. Compass Group runs dining operations at about 10,000 companies, hospitals, senior living centers, schools, colleges and universities, making it the largest food service company in the world.
McDonald's also announced in February its <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/14/mcdonalds-gestation-crates_n_1275942.html" target="_hplink">plan to stop using meat from pig raised in the crates</a> by 2017.
Hormel, the maker of products like Spam, announced in February it <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/02/hormel-gestation-crates_n_1249707.html" target="_hplink">pledges to eliminate most gestation crates by 2017</a>.
Bon Appétit Management Company
Also in February, Bon Appetit announced it would <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-bon-appetit-gestation-crates-20120220,0,7675759.story" target="_hplink">stop buying pork from providers who use gestation cates</a>. Bon Appetit runs more than 400 cafes across 31 states.
Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer, announced late last year it would <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/08/smithfield-gestation-crates_n_1136567.html" target="_hplink">end its practice of using gestation crates</a> for pregnant hogs by 2017.
In early July, Oscar Mayer pledged to source its pork from suppliers that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/09/oscar-mayer-gestation-crates_n_1658670.html" target="_hplink">no longer use gestation crates</a>. Oscar Mayer is owned by Kraft Foods.
On July 23, Sysco <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/24/sysco-gestation-crates_n_1698971.html?1343152570" target="_hplink">pledged to work with its producers to stop the use of gestation crates</a>. Sysco is the world's largest broadline food distributor.