Dunkin' Donuts says it will start using cage-free eggs in its breakfast sandwiches and eliminate "gestation crates" from its pork supply chain.
The Canton, Mass.-based company said Wednesday that it will transition 5 percent of its eggs to cage-free by the end of next year; it did not set a timeline for completing the switch.
To determine a timeline for eliminating gestation crates, or breeding cages for pigs, the company said it will start by requiring its U.S. pork suppliers to outline their plans to achieve that goal.
Josh Balk, director of corporate policy at the Humane Society of the United States, said that's the first step for most companies that want to stop the use of gestation crates.
"There's been a massive trend by the largest pork buyers to demand their suppliers eliminate gestation crates," he noted.
Other major fast-food chains that have committed to eliminating use of pig crates include McDonald's Corp., Burger King Worldwide Inc., Wendy's and Subway, as well as several supermarket chains such as Kroger Co. and Safeway Inc.
Gestation crates often confine mother pigs for their entire lives, or about four years, Balk said. The space is usually so small that pigs can barely move.
"For as long as students go to high school, these pigs can't even turn around," he said.
Several companies have also said they will start using cage-free eggs, although the commitment levels vary.
Egg and pork producers have argued that easing confinement standards for animals raises production costs, making their businesses less competitive.
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