Food company decides to “go humane” — new business “niche” for farmers?

From Helene York at Civil Eats:

“I manage supply chains for Bon Appétit Management Company, which is another way of saying that my job is to think about chicken and pork. Not just the meat, but the lives of the animals themselves. I suspect there are few other non-meat-eaters whose corporate roles require them to think about farm animals as much as mine does.

But thinking about production systems and negotiating with suppliers can only go so far. Today, we’re saying that we’re fed up. Bon Appétit Management Company today announced that by 2015 all our pork will be sourced from companies that don’t use gestation stalls–the densely packed metal cages that imprison pregnant sows in spaces so tight they can’t even turn around. Imagine hundreds of 200-pound dogs confined that way all day, every day, and it should be easy to understand why this system is so egregious.

We also announced that in addition to our shell eggs, which have come from farms Certified Humane by Humane Farm Animal Care since 2005, all of our eggs will meet that standard or those set by other credible certifiers. That includes eggs that are separated from their shells, known as “liquid eggs,” which are commonly used in very busy restaurant kitchens like ours. (You try cracking eggs for 2,000 people daily!) Liquid eggs, after all, come from laying hens just as shell eggs do, and we believe that the 67-square inches a battery cage affords each hen is simply unacceptable.

We are the first and only food service company to make such a serious commitment. And we’re not just raising the minimum standards of what we’ll accept in the way of pork and eggs, we’re also raising the ceiling. We’re committing that 25 percent or more of all our animal proteins will be the most humanely raised possible—not just cage- and crate-free, but also raised without subtherapeutic antibiotics and hormones, and allowed to engage in their natural behaviors. We won’t rely on producers to reassure us, but on independent, third-party-certified labels.

So why does “going humane” keep me up some nights?

The true answer, perhaps paradoxically, is that there isn’t a ready supply today of gestation crate-free pork or Certified Humane liquid eggs that we can buy. We’re going to have to catalyze sources to live up to our commitment.

And I work for a very impatient boss. Fedele Bauccio, Bon Appétit’s CEO, served on thePew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production a few years ago and came back fromsite visits around the country complaining about how factory farming made him sick. I wanted to phase in this policy over five years, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He made it a companywide commitment to start now….”

Read it all on Civil Eats.

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