In an apparent response to opposition to its production practices, the world’s largest pork supplier Smithfield Foods announced Thursday that it would phase out sow gestation crates.
Smithfield, based in Smithfield, VA, which supplies meat for McDonald’s McRib sandwiches, said during a conference call with investors that it would stop using gestation crates by 2017.
Smithfield first vowed in 2007 that it would ban gestation crates in 10 years, but in 2009 announced a delay in that effort as it struggled with financial pressures within the company. Executives of the company said that 30% of sows will be in group housing by the end of the year.
Last month, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission accusing Smithfield of duping consumers by claiming it didn’t abuse its pigs.
HSUS said in a news release that it supports Smithfield’s new stance and urged its competitors such as Tyson, Hormel, Triumph, Prestage,Seaboard and others “to stop lagging behind and follow suit by adopting similar policies.”