Philadelphia-based food service giant Aramark today said it will eliminate all pork from animals bred using gestation crates in its U.S. supply chain by 2017.
In announcing the plans with the Humane Society of the United States, Aramark joins dozens of other food service companies, restaurant chains and supermarkets that have pledged to end their reliance on suppliers who house breeding pigs in undersized crates their whole lives.
“Aramark is proud to stand in partnership with other industry leaders and supply chain partners to transition away from gestation crates in a timely fashion,” said Kathy Cacciola, Aramark's senior director of environmental sustainability. “We’re committed to operating responsibly and addressing key issues, including animal welfare, throughout our supply chain and business, and this commitment helps move the entire industry toward the elimination of gestation crates.”

To meet this goal, Aramark has asked its primary pork suppliers to develop plans for reducing, and then eliminating gestation crates and will require new supplier contracts for pork to provide a plan that addresses how they will phase out gestation creates to meet these important goals, the company said in a news release.

“Aramark is the largest US-based food service company taking a stand on this issue and the company’s decision to eliminate pork from methods using gestation crates is a move toward even greater social responsibility,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States. “Aramark has been a great partner to work with, and we applaud its decision to develop a proactive transition plan to 2017.”
In addition to other major food companies moving away from the use of gestation crates, such as McDonald's and Burger King, nine states have also passed laws banning the crates. Pennsylvania and New Jersey are not among them, but the New Jersey legislature has a bill pending that would ban the practice.
Gestation crates confine breeding pigs 24 hours a day during their four-month pregnancy in cages roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies, preventing them from even turning around. They are then placed into another crate to give birth, re-impregnated, and put back into a gestation crate. This happens in every pregnancy cycle for a female pig, confining them in a state of virtual immobilization for their entire lives.