Today, Arcos Dorados–the largest operator of McDonald’s restaurants in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the world’s largest McDonald’s franchisee—demonstrated its commitment to improving animal welfare by introducing a new requirement for its pork suppliers to document plans to limit gestation crate use and promote group housing for sows within the next two years. The result applies to 20 Latin American countries, including Brazil and Mexico (two of the company’s largest markets).
Gestation crates –cages that are so small that pigs confined in them cannot even turn around or take a step forward or backward—are already banned in the European Union and in nine U.S. states, and they are being phased out in Australia, Canada, India and South Africa. However, millions of mother pigs in Latin America spend their lives confined to these inhumane crates. Today’s announcement comes after more than a year of dialogue between Humane Society International (HSI) and Arcos Dorados, and follows McDonald’s commitment to end the use of gestation crates in its U.S. supply chain.
We’ve seen that when a few major corporations lead on animal welfare, others often follow. After McDonald’s made its anti-crate pledge in the United States, dozens of other food retailers throughout the country got on the bandwagon in the succeeding months to eliminate gestation crates from their pork supply chains. Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, has also pledged a complete phase-out of crates globally. Arcos Dorados’ decision is important and promising, and an important step forward in our efforts to end the use of gestation crates in Latin America.
Humane Society International is working on the ground in Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico and many other countries to end the lifelong confinement of breeding sows in gestation crates. We’re urging multinational food retailers that are already phasing out gestation crates in the United States to extend their crate-free policies to Latin America and beyond, and petitioning local restaurants, food companies and producers to also adopt more humane practices.
We are working on public and corporate policies to end extreme confinement of farm animals, and we are also making our case directly to consumers. A week ago, we released this video, thanks to Allen and Jill Johnson, in which we asked people on the street to try out what it’s like to be crammed into a gestation crate for four minutes, and already nearly a million people have viewed it. As you will see in the video, most people could not last in the crate for four minutes, but the pigs who are confined each spend four years on an average in the crates. This is not what any decent person wants to see an animal endure.
As this dramatic news about Arcos Dorados makes clear, HSI’s multi-faceted campaign to globalize animal welfare principles is gaining ground, and we hope you’ll continue to support the full range of our efforts to eliminate the worst elements of factory farming worldwide.