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Chili's Moves to Take Gestation Crates off the Menu

4 October 2012, at 8:51am

US - Brinker International, owner of the Chili’s restaurant chain, has announced that it will work toward eliminating controversial gestation crates—cages used to confine breeding pigs—from its pork supply chain, becoming the latest in a growing list of major food companies to address this issue.

The Humane Society of the United States supports Brinker’s progress.

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.

“Brinker acknowledges there are various ways to achieve our animal welfare beliefs, ncluding phasing out gestation stalls. We are working with our pork suppliers to do this, which will take time to implement,“ stated Brinker International in a statement posted on its website.

As a short term goal, the company also notes that over the next five to seven years it will “ensure a substantial majority of our pork products are sourced from vendors who have committed to eliminating gestation stalls from farms they operate.“

“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 The HSUS’s farm animal protection department. “Americans don’t support the lifelong confinement of animals in cages so small they can’t even turn around, and for Brinker to move away from that abuse represents both a wise business move and an ethical decision.“

Similar announcements made recently by McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Oscar Mayer, Costco, Safeway, Kroger and other leading food companies signal a reversal in a three-decade-old trend in the pork industry that leaves most breeding pigs confined day and night in gestation crates during their four-month pregnancy.