ConAgra Foods Takes Socially Responsible Step To Improve Animal Welfare

The issue of animal welfare is increasingly important to people all over the world. With the rise of factory farms in the post-war period, some inhumane practices  were introduced to the system. Now they have become a moral discomfort. These include cages so small for egg hens that they’re confined to an area the size of an A4 paper sheet. Another egregious abuse of the most basic conditions of welfare is gestation crates for sows, who are confined to such a small space they cannot even turn around.

Fortunately, with the rise of veganism and an increasing awareness of such issues amongst omnivores, the industry is taking stock. With the pressure from mainstream organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the more extremes forms of animal cruelty embedded in industrial animal farming are being phased out, although in some states, especially the mainly agricultural ones, the industry is trying to blockade changes with new legislation.

The latest food company to make an announcement regarding animal welfare is ConAgra, which has issued a statement to its suppliers regarding the elimination of gestation stalls. It said: “ConAgra Foods supports the elimination of gestation stall housing for sows. We are asking our pork suppliers to present actionable plans by 2017 that address both the elimination of gestation stalls and creation of traceability systems within the pork supply chain. We recognize that implementing a phase-out may be a long-term process, and could take up to 10 years.”

The Humane Society responded by praising the initiative. “We applaud ConAgra Foods tackling one of the most serious farm animal welfare problems,” said Josh Balk, corporate policy director of farm animal protection for The HSUS. “This policy makes it even clearer than ever that the cruel gestation crate confinement of pigs will come to an end.”

HSUS is currently lobbying Tyson Food, the second largest pork producer in the United States, to ditch its gestation crates.

Image credit: HSUS