McDonald's is winning praise from animal welfare groups for taking action to create a more humane McRib. The fast food giant has told its suppliers to come up with plans for ending the use of gestation crates for adult female hogs, the Wall Street Journal reports. Most breeding sows in the US spend their entire lives in the tiny pens, which are so small that they cannot turn around. McDonald's says it has decided the pens are "not a sustainable production system."
McDonald's buys some 1% of pork produced in the US, and its decision is likely to mean the end of gestation crates at major producers "because in the world of big-time meat supply, there are two kinds of producers: those who sell to McDonald’s and those [who] wish they could," notes Mark Bittman at the New York Times. In 1999, McDonald's asked its suppliers to give caged hens 72 square inches of space instead of 48, and 72 inches quickly became the industry standard, he notes. (Read more animal welfare stories.)