'Game-Changing' Animal Welfare Policies Take Root

The food-service industry takes a big step toward more humane practices.

April 30, 2015
meat served cafeteria
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Following closely on the heels of the announcement that Tyson is going to stop using human antibiotics in its chicken, there's more good news coming from the food industry. Aramark, the largest food-service company in the country, is embracing new rules on animal welfare.

You may not recognize the name, but this food-service company rings up sales topping $15 billion and serves up food in schools, universities, conference centers, parks and resorts, sporting events, cultural attracttions, and hospitals.

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Aramark partnered with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to create what the HSUS called a "game-changing" new policy to protect animal welfare. The new guidelines focus on three major failings of factory farming: intensive confinement, painful practices, and unnaturally fast growth.

Some of these policies include:

• Going cage-free for egg-producing chickens by 2020
• Refusing to buy pork or veal from animals that were born from gestation crates by 2017
• Working with suppliers to eliminate castration, tail docking, and dehorning (or, at minimum, requiring painkillers for these practices until alternatives can be found)
• Working with suppliers to stop the slaughter of poultry by shackling and dunking the conscious birds in electrified water
• Working with suppliers to eliminate growth hormones, both in animal feed and by injection.

"We are pleased to partner with Aramark and create this comprehensive animal welfare policy," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of HSUS. "Aramark's efforts demonstrate a growing interest in animal welfare by consumers and the industry, and help drive toward continuous improvement in addressing farm animal practices."

As we saw with McDonald's earlier declaration to stop serving chicken with medically relevant antibiotics, these changes by big companies can make industry-wide waves. "The broad reach of our supply chain provides an opportunity for us to have a significant impact on animal-welfare issues and to shift purchasing practices that impact the clients, consumers, and communities we serve," said Eric J. Foss, chairman, president, and CEO of Aramark.

This isn't the only positive market change: Check out these 9 signs that big businesses are listening.