Sysco Jumps Aboard Gestation Ban – Pledges To Stop Using Gestation Crates For Pork Products

Sysco Jumps Aboard Gestation Ban - Pledges To Stop Using Gestation Crates For Pork Products

Sysco is one of the world’s largest food distributors.  Happily they’ve decided to join the other restaurants and organizations that have pledged to stop using pork from distributors who use gestation crates.

The Humane Society has applauded the move in a and included a statement from Sysco in their own:

Sysco takes its role as a responsible corporate citizen in the food supply chain seriously. We use science-based standards for animal welfare and work diligently with our suppliers to ensure humane treatment of animals. We also listen closely to our customers desires. Although there are many ways to house sows, several customers and suppliers have expressed their desire to eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains.

While no timeline has been established, Sysco has promised it would work with its suppliers to end the use of gestation crates.  Sysco has joined the ranks of the likes of McDonalds, Burger King, Safeway, and Hormel in disavowing the use of the crates.  Sysco earned $40 billion in sales last year and has 400,000 customers worldwide.

Oscar Mayer To Eliminate Gestation Crates From Supplier Chain By 2022

Oscar Mayer To Eliminate Gestation Crates From Supplier Chain By 2022

Gestation crates are an unfortunate practice among pork producers.  They’re small cages that keep pigs basically immobile.  So small are they that pregnant sows are completely unable to move.  That’s a sad existence for any animal.  There’s been a movement of late for states to ban the practice (most recently my old home state of Rhode Island) and producers to phase out suppliers using them.Oscar Mayer To Eliminate Gestation Crates From Supplier Chain By 2022

Oscar Mayer, a Kraft Foods brand, has joined the ranks of several other major food companies, pledging to source its pork from suppliers that don’t use the cruel crates.  Their timeline isn’t exactly blistering but given the logistics of large supply chains we’d venture to say any improvement on this score is a good one.  Over the next 10 years the company will phase out suppliers and by 2022 they will be gestation crate-free.

“At Oscar Mayer, we believe quality meat begins with quality animal care. We are committed to finding better ways to keep animals healthy and in a safe environment while treating them with respect,” – Sydney Lindner, the Associate Director of Oscar Mayer Corporate Affairs in a press release.

The Humane Society, who has been very active working with major food companies to eliminate the crates, applauded the move.  Paul Shapiro, the Humane Society’s vice president of farm animal protection, believes that Oscar Meyer’s decision “sends a strong message to pork industry leaders who are resisting change.”

McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Hormel, Denny’s, Safeway, and Compass Foods are among manufacturers who’ve already made similar moves, pledging to phase out suppliers who maintain the practice in similar time frames.  Kraft is the second largest food supplier in the world, so the move is not insignificant.

Burger King Promises 100% Cage-Free Eggs and Pork by 2017

Burger King Promises 100% Cage-Free Eggs and Pork by 2017Eating at Burger is about (eventually) to get a lot more humane.  The nation’s second largest fast food chain announced it had come to an agreement in cooperation with the Humane Society, on Wednesday.  Burger King is the first large-scale fast food operator to switch to eggs from hens not kept in cages, and to only use pork products from pigs also not kept and bred in small cages by 2017.  The agreement is a move to satisfy consumer demand for humanely produced food while at the same time increasing sales.

Those eggs that are raised conventionally come from hens confined in “battery cages.” These allow hens the equivalent of your high-school notebook in which to live.  The majority of pork comes from sows confined during their four-month pregnancies in narrow crates.  Animal rights activists have applauded Burger King for the plan.

The new requirements would call for hens to have room to move about with additional perches and nesting boxes.  Sows will also held indoors, but they would not be confined in the cramped crates while pregnant.  Respective producers have argued that easing confinement standards for animals raises production costs and lessens their competitive edge.

“So many tens of thousands of animals will now be in better living conditions,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States. “Numerically, this is significant because Burger King is such a big purchaser of these products.”

Burger King uses hundreds of millions of eggs and tens of millions of pounds of pork each year.  It’s a market so large that, like Wal-Mart, a change in policy can change suppliers and cost structure.  Analysts predict that Burger King may see very little increase in cost.

The company made moves to use cage free resources as early as 2007.  Nine percent of the company’s eggs and 20 percent of the pork served at its 7,200 restaurants are cage-free.

Other companies have initiated similar policies.  Chipotle used a viral marketing campaign during the Grammy Awards outlining the company’s commitment to humane treatment of animals.  The commercial netted a lot of positive buzz and other companies were quick to announce new policies.

This year, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Wal-Mart, Costco, Smithfield Farms, And Hormel have all made announcements regarding the humane treatment of animals.  Sonic, Subway, Ruby Tuesday, Kraft Food and ConAgra Foods, are all working on incorporating a percentage of cage free eggs into their products.

“This is an issue that just four to five months ago was not on the food industry’s radar,” said Paul Shapiro, the Humane Society’s vice president for farm animal protection. “Now it’s firmly cemented into the mainstream in a way that I think few people would have imagined.”

The US lags far behind the EU.  European laws regarding livestock and farm animals are far more strict.  Every egg that McDonald’s uses in Europe are from free-range chickens, which are allowed to roam outside.

Roast Pork Loin With Rosemary, Thyme, And Garlic

Roast Pork Loin With Rosemary, Thyme, And Garlic

For a very long time I hated the idea of pork.  OK, not pork.  Pork chops.  Pork is great.  Ham is great.  Bacon is great.  So why no love for the pork chop?  I think it’s because pork chops very often turn out like meaty grey hockey pucks.  They look very inviting.  Often they are not.  No wonder applesauce is so popular with pork chops.  So pork chops this is not.  I don’t buy chops anymore.  I just buy a tenderloin when the urge hits.

I first started messing around with pork tenderloins a few years ago.  I tried many different methods, many different temperatures….endless.  I tried an experiment when we were hosting Thanksgiving a year or two ago.  I made two giant tenderloins; one  sweet, one savory.  I used the revised FDA safe cooking temperatures, in this case 145 degrees F.  Anyone who can remember President Eisenhower would be horrified.  Pork’s always been 160 degrees F, for as long as anyone can remember.  As my mother used to say of eating raw chocolate chip cookie dough from the bowl…”You’ll get worms…” Continue reading

Bacon Based Tourism Infographic

Needing to get your Bacon on?  Traveling to disparate locations and wondering what kind of bacon can I get here, right now?!  Then consider the infographic Bacon Based Tourism to be your ultimate travel guide. Loaded with handy bacon-related info for most major countries, you’ll know what type of pork to expect in each country, and how to order it like a pro.  Bonus.  Including such information as Bacon in Many Languages, and the Top 10 Pork Producing Countries of 2010, you’re ensured your next vacation won’t fall short.  Let’s face it, no one wants to look like a bacon neophyte when abroad.  Click on the photo for a much larger version.

Bacon Based Tourism Infographic

Sous Vide Dinner #2 – Pork, Wild Rice, and Steamed Cauliflower

Sous Vide Dinner #2 - Pork, Wild Rice, and Cauliflower

I was oh-so happy with the results of my first sous vide experimentation.  It was easy, my steak was unbelievably good, and far more tender than any steak I’ve ever had before.  Figuring that things went so well the first time I’d better get cracking and see what else I could accomplish with this fantastic new (to me) cooking method.

Pork chops are another food that often leaves me wondering what the hell I was thinking.  Part of the problem is that most people over-cook pork to the point of ruination.  Pork doesn’t need to be cooked to 165 or 170 degrees.  That used to be the FDA’s safe cooking temperature.  Cooked to that point, you’d be better off just eating a chunk of your gardening gloves, such is the texture. Continue reading