Burger King Beefs Up Humane Purchasing

WASHINGTON ~ American fast-food giant Burger King said this week it was beefing up its purchases of pork and eggs from farmers who practice humane animal treatment.

Burger King said it would boost purchases from producers who do not keep their animals tightly confined in restrictive metal crates and cages, following the advice of animal welfare experts.

“We’re going to expand our purchases of the cage-free eggs and pork as the supply increases and pricing becomes competitive,” said Steve Grover, a Burger King vice president of food safety.

Burger King’s new program applies to its operations across the United States and Canada.

“We reached our conclusions based on the advice of Burger King’s animal welfare advisory board, and in general, where we think we can support the recommendations of an animal advisor, our staff will work to implement those recommendations,” Grover said.

Animal welfare groups, including PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and The Humane Society of the United States, applauded Burger King’s announcement. Burger King consulted both groups before announcing its reforms.

Burger King, renowned for its “whopper” burgers, said it would also encourage poultry suppliers to start using “controlled-atmosphere stunning” or gas as opposed to electric shocks to render birds unconscious before they are slaughtered and processed.

The Humane Society of the United States says controlled stunning is preferable because it kills birds by depriving them of oxygen, which causes them less suffering them paralyzing them alive through electrocution.

Burger King said it would seek to buy two percent of its eggs from farmers who do not keep birds in wire battery cages, and to purchase 10 percent of its pork from farms that allow sows to move around freely instead of confining them.

“Burger King’s new plan helps reduce some of the worst factory-farming and slaughterhouse abuses and will send a shockwave through the meat and egg industries,” predicted Bruce Friedrich, a PETA vice president.

“Burger King is signaling to agribusiness that the most inhumane factory farming practices are on the way out,” said Wayne Pacelle, the president of the US Humane Society.

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