Posted by Mark J. Miller on April 25, 2012 03:50 PM
Fast-food brands aren't going to get out of the meat business any time soon. But Burger King wants to be the first big U.S. fast-food chain to at least do that with chicken and pigs that don’t spend their lives caged up.
The plan is for the 7,200 Burger Kings across America to be using 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2017 and also only buy pork from “suppliers that can demonstrate documented plans to end their use of gestation crates for breeding pigs,” according to a press release.
The animal welfare announcement comes as the chain is promoting the chicken strips on its new U.S. menu in a celeb-laden (now adding Steven Tyler? Update: yes, Tyler) advertising campaign.
The #3 U.S. chain says it's the first fast food brand to lay down rules to reduce cage confinement for its egg-laying hens and making sure the use of stall-free pork has grown. For its work encouraging vendors and suppliers to treat animals properly, the Humane Society of the United States gave Burger King a Corporate Progress award last year.
"For more than a decade, Burger King Corp. has demonstrated a commitment to animal welfare and, through our BK Positive Steps corporate responsibility program, we continue to leverage our purchasing power to ensure the appropriate and proper treatment of animals by our vendors and suppliers," stated Jonathan Fitzpatrick, chief brand and operations officer at Burger King. "We are proud to announce these new, industry-leading commitments that support meaningful standards of humane treatment in our U.S. supply chain."
The press release includes a statement from the head of the U.S. Humane Society applauding the move:
"Burger King Corp. has demonstrated when it comes to America's largest fast food chains, it continues to set the standard," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "These changes by Burger King Corp. will improve life for countless farm animals and encourage other companies to abide by animal welfare principles up and down their supply chain."
McDonald's U.S. touted its animal welfare standards in a video (featuring animal husbandry guru Temple Grandin) that was released in February.