Humane Society of the U.S. sends a message via Kreider & Burger King

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2012:

MIAMI, PHILADELPHIA–The Humane Society
of the U.S. on April 12, 2012 disclosed
undercover video of horrific conditions at a
Kreider Farms egg ranch in Man-heim,
Pennsylvania–an erstwhile ally in seeking
passage of HR 3798, the proposed federal bill to
mandate larger cage sizes for laying hens.
On April 25, 2012, less than two weeks
later, HSUS president Wayne Pacelle lauded
Burger King for announcing that by 2017 all
Burger King eggs and pork products are to come
from cage-free hens and pigs raised without use
of gestation stalls.


Viewed together, the HSUS responses to
Kreider Farms practices and Burger King efforts
to improve conditions for farmed animals could be
seen as the contrasting sides of a
stick-and-carrot approach to reforming
agribusiness–and as a rejoinder to criticisms
that the HSUS deal with United Egg Producers to
pass HR 3798 included tactical and philosophical
retreats.
The Kreider Farms exposé sent a message
that HSUS expects improved care standards from
egg producers, not just larger cages. Praise of
the Burger King announcement signified that no
cages remains a longterm HSUS goal.
HSUS agreed with United Egg Producers in
June 2011 that it would suspend undercover
investigations of UEP member farms, in exchange
for UEP support in passing HR 3798. But Kreider
Farms, claiming to be the largest family-owned
egg producer in Pennsylvania, is not a member of
United Egg Producers.
“We are leading the industry by tearing
down old, traditional-style egg houses and
replacing them with new, state-of-the-art
facilities,” Kreider company president Ron
Kreider told Patrick Walters of Associated Press.
“More than 80% of our chickens are housed in
larger, modern cages,” Kreider continued,
reiterating support for HR 3798. “By
comparison,” Kreider said, “80% of U.S. caged
egg production still houses birds in older,
traditional style cages.”
Countered Pacelle, “Just having larger
cages doesn’t mean the birds have more room,
since the stocking density in these ‘larger
cages’ is roughly the same. That means more birds
can be packed into the larger cages.
Additionally, most egg producers give their hens
67 square inches of cage space per bird-already a
very small amount. Kreider gives its birds even
less space than the industry norm: only 54-58
square inches per bird in these ‘larger cages.'”
Conducted in February and March 2012,
the HSUS undercover investigation of Kreider
documented “Live chickens sharing cages with
mummified remains of dead birds. Thousands of
chickens dead of dehydration thanks to a water
source malfunctioning. A carpet of dead flies so
dark that workers in a poultry house needed
headlamps to see,” summarized Philadelphia
Inquirer staff writer Amy Worden.
HSUS also said it found salmonella
contamination at Kreider. A Kreider Farms
spokesperson on April 16 told ABC News that the
company had never had an outbreak of salmonella,
though the U.S. Food & Drug Administration found
salmonella in two of eight samples taken at the
Manheim barns in January 2012. WGAL, an NBC
affiliate, reported that Kreider acknowledged
having one barn test positive for salmonella,
while the New York Times reported that Kreider
“acknowledged that three barns had tested
positive for salmonella.”
Kreider spokesperson Laura W. Koster
eventually clarified that three older chicken
houses had tested positive for salmonella, but
that no eggs tested positive.
Pennsylvania state secretary of
agriculture George D. Greig on April 13, 2012
told Lancaster Intelligencer Journal staff writer
Tom Knapp that “The state veterinarian visited
and inspected the entire Kreider Farms Manheim
facility on two occasions over the past three
days. All practices, procedures and conditions
that our veterinarian observed,” Grieg said,
“were consistent with industry-best practices
pertaining to animal health and food borne
pathogen risk minimization.” But Grieg
acknowledged that the state inspection “focused
solely on animal health issues in its inspection,
as it does not have jurisdiction on animal
welfare issues.”
Technical services specialist Eric
Gingerich of the Indiana-based livestock
nutritional supplement maker Diamond V on April
12, 2012 called the HSUS investigation “typical
of past reports that show normal conditions in
egg production facilities.”
Gingerich said dead hens “are an everyday
finding in large flocks,” and that mummification
of dead birds in cages, as shown in the HSUS
video, “occurs in all farms I have visited,
albeit not frequently.”
But the whole point of the HSUS exposé
was that such conditions should not be accepted
as normal.
Burger King
“The movement by U.S. food corporations
toward more humane treatment of animals
experienced a whopper of a shift on April 25,
2012,” Associated Press summarized, “when
Burger King announced that all of its eggs and
pork will come from cage-free chickens and pigs
by 2017. The decision by the world’s
second-biggest fast-food restaurant raises the
bar for other companies,” Associated Press said.
“Burger King uses hundreds of millions of
eggs and tens of millions of pounds of pork
annually, and its decision could be a
game-changing move in the supply business as a
huge new market opens up for humanely raised food
animals,” assessed Associated Press writer
Tracie Cone. “Already 9% of the company’s eggs
and 20% of the pork served at its 7,200
restaurants are cage-free.”
Noted Cone, “In recent months, other
companies have announced similar policies.
Chipotle, with just over 1,200 restaurants,
made a splash during the Grammy Awards in
February with its viral commercial detailing the
company’s commitment to humane treatment of
animals and healthy food. Also, Smithfield Farms
and Hormel committed to ending the use of
gestation crates for pigs by 2017. Wal-Mart and
Costco have shifted their private-label eggs to
100 percent cage-free. Unilever, which uses 350
million eggs a year in its Hellmann’s mayonnaise
brand, is switching to 100% cage-free. Chain
restaurants Sonic, Subway, and Ruby Tuesday,
and manufacturers such as Kraft Food and ConAgra
Foods, are incorporating some percentage of
cage-free eggs in their products.”
Recounted Pacelle, “McDonald’s,
Wendy’s, Burger King, and Compass Group -the
world’s three largest restaurant chains and
largest food service company-have now declared
that they’ll get gestation crates out of their
U.S. supply chains.”
HSUS has “filed shareholder proposals
with top pork producer Seaboard Corporation and
restaurant chains Bob Evans, Tim Horton’s, and
Domino’s over their inaction on gestation
crates,” Pacelle added.
Burger King agreed in principle in March
2007 to stop buying pork from producers who use
gestation stalls; to move toward using cage-free
eggs, though the available cage-free egg supply
at that time was believed to be only about 2% of
total Burger King use; and to favor chicken
suppliers that use controlled-atmosphere
stunning, usually done with nitrogen, argon,
or carbon dioxide, rather than dipping chickens
head-first into an electrified “stunning bath.”
The American Humane Association in
September 2010 endorsed what it termed “a new
method of controlled-atmosphere stunning for
poultry called Low Atmospheric Pressure System,
or LAPS.” The LAPS method is actually
decompression, promoted by the AHA as a method
of killing dogs and cats in animal shelters from
1950 until at least 30 years later. The most
common method of shelter killing circa 1970,
decompression was opposed by HSUS as inhumane,
and was entirely abolished in the U.S. by 1985.
O.K. Foods Inc. of Ft. Smith, Arkansas,
a major chicken supplier to Wendy’s Co., in
March 2012 shifted to killing chickens by LAPS,
reported Associated Press business writer Sarah
Skidmore.
“It’s a lose/lose situation for chickens,
turkeys and all animals raised for food,” said
United Poultry Concerns founder Karen Davis,
anticipating that use of LAPS will soon spread to
other firms and other species.

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