Brinker International, which owns the Chili’s restaurant chain, reports that the company will work with its pork suppliers to eliminate gestation-sow stalls.

Recent food company announcements such as this one, have taken on a slightly more cooperative tone than some presented earlier this year.  Specifically, on its website Brinker cited the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) position on sow housing, which focuses on the animal’s nutrition and body condition, health, environmental conditions and air quality, as well as “good mental health,” which relates to minimizing stress.

Brinker’s announcement acknowledges that “there are various ways to achieve our animal welfare beliefs…including phasing out gestation stalls,” adding that such actions will “take some time to implement.”

Recognizing that there are no systems in place to verify on-farm housing systems, the company’s goal over the next 5 to 7 years is to ensure that “a substantial majority of our pork products are sourced from vendors who have committed to eliminating gestation stalls from farms they operate.”

In the short term, company officials report they will work to greatly reduce its supply of pork products that originate from systems using gestation-sow stalls. “As an industry leader, we have the opportunity to influence the way animals supplied to us are treated,” Brinker said in its statement.

In addition to the more than 1,500 Chili’s Grill & Bar locations, the Dallas-based company also owns and operates Maggiano’s Little Italy and has a stake in Romano’s Macaroni Grill. Brinker’s new animal welfare policy applies to the pork for all of its restaurants.

“We welcome Brinker’s work to improve conditions for pigs and applaud the company for addressing this pressing concern,” stated Matthew Prescott, food policy director for Humane Society of the United States.