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Hardee's to end use of cramped crates in pork supply chain

The Humane Society of the United States
This photo shows sows in gestation crates. The Humane Society of the United States provided the photo, which the organization says was taken during its 2012 undercover investigation at a Wyoming breeding facility supplying pigs to Tyson Foods.

The fast food chain Hardee’s says it will stop buying pork from suppliers who use gestation crates – the cramped metal cages where many industrial pork producers house pregnant sows for most of their adult lives.

The cages are not much bigger than the pigs themselves, making it difficult for the animals to move or lie down comfortably.

Hardee’s is headquartered in St. Louis. Along with Carl’s Jr. and their parent company CKE Restaurants, Hardee’s started to shift from gestation crate-raised pork five years ago and has committed to complete that transition by 2022.

The move by CKE Restaurants follows similar commitments by McDonald’s, Burger King, Safeway, and a number of other food companies earlier this year.

The food policy director for the Humane Society of the United States, Matthew Prescott, says his organization applauds CKE’s decision.

“There aren’t many worse ways that animals suffer in America than pigs in gestation crates,” Prescott said. “And for Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s to take such a strong stance sends a clear message to the pork industry that things just have to change.”

Hardee’s would not comment for this story, but in a statement sent by CKE Restaurants to the Humane Society of the United States, the company said it supports the humane treatment of animals.

CKE also said it already purchases the majority of its pork from suppliers that use group housing methods.

CKE Statement on Pork Purchasing:

"CKE Restaurants, Inc. supports the humane treatment of animals, having requested its pork suppliers to develop practical and sustainable alternatives to the use of gestation stalls and to transition to a group housing environment for sows. Following its 2007 commitment, CKE Restaurants has sought guidance from Dr. Temple Grandin, the industry’s leading animal welfare expert, in directing its pork suppliers to work toward implementing alternative housing for pregnant sows by 2022. Currently, CKE purchases the majority of its pork from suppliers which utilize group-housing methods, and as pork producers transition away from gestation-crate-raised sows, CKE will strive to completely transition its pork supplies to only utilize animals raised in group housing situations by 2022."

Follow Véronique LaCapra on Twitter: @KWMUScience

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