The Wendy’s hamburger chain has joined the ranks of foodservice providers that will require its U.S. and Canadian pork suppliers to make plans to phase out the use of gestation-sow stalls. McDonalds was the most significant company to step forward last month, giving its suppliers until May to develop and deliver their plans.

“Wendy’s is working with its U.S. and Canadian pork suppliers to eliminate the use of sow-gestation stalls over time,” says Dennis Hecker, head of Wendy's animal welfare committee and senior vice president of quality assurance. “[Wendy’s] believes that confining sows in gestation stalls is not sustainable over the long term, and moving away from this practice is the right thing to do.” 

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has been talking with Wendy’s regarding the use of gestation-sow stalls.  

“Confining pigs in gestation crates is cruel, and more and more consumers want nothing to do with this kind of animal mistreatment,” says Wayne Pacelle, HSUS’ president and chief executive officer. “Wendy’s commitment to eliminate gestation crates provides further evidence that we are on the pathway toward ending this inhumane practice once and for all.”

The Wendy’s announcement follows a wave of similar activities that began on Jan. 31, with an HSUS undercover video taken at Seaboard Foods and Prestage Farms breeding herd facilities in Oklahoma, which focused on gestation-sow stalls. HSUS’ concerted effort moved into February with shardholder actions involving Hormel, Tyson Foods and Smithfield Foods.

Recent activities on the foodservice side has included the Compass Group, which operates 10,000 dining facilities at schools, hospitals, corporate offices and other venues in the United States, and considered to be the largest foodservice company in the world, recently announced it also will eliminate gestation stalls. Bon Appétit Management Company, associated with the Compass Group, which operates more than 400 cafés for corporations, universities and other venues, made that same commitment in February. 

Smithfield and Hormel officials have recommitted to stop using gestation-sow stalls at their company-owned facilities by 2017. Cargill has eliminated gestation stalls in about 50 percent of its production. HSUS points out that eight U.S. states have laws designed to end practice, and Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, have bills pending that would outlaw gestation stalls.