As someone attending a university with a Sodexo-run dining operation, I’m disappointed by where our food comes from. There are few things we do on a daily basis that reflect our core values more than the food we choose to consume. While on a college campus, there’s a trust students have that the food offered will be as healthy, sustainable, safe, and humane as possible. Sodexo betrayed and continues to betray this very trust.
Sodexo is one of the largest food service companies in the country, with the dining operations everywhere from Disney to NASA to Louisiana State University to Ford. With all that power comes responsibility, and I have to wonder why Sodexo supports cruel confinement of pigs and hens.
Most of the eggs Sodexo serves its customers come precracked in the liquid form. Virtually all of these eggs come from hens confined in tiny cages that are so cramped the birds can’t even spread their wings. Each of these hens is given less space than a single sheet of paper on which to live for her entire life.
Virtually all of Sodexo’s bacon, sausage, and ham come from pork suppliers that confine pregnant breeding pigs inside crates so narrow the animals can’t even turn around. These pigs are immobilized for their entire lives, often up to four years. This abuse is so cruel it has been banned throughout the entire European Union and eight U.S. states. In fact Compass Group, Sodexo’s primary competitor, recently announced it’s eliminating all of pork products that come from operations that use gestation crates by 2017.
Dr. Temple Grandin, perhaps the most famous animal scientist in the country, strongly opposes gestation crates stating “I feel very strongly that we've got to treat animals right, and the gestation stalls have got to go,” she says. Explaining further that, “gestation crates for pigs are a real problem....Basically, you’re asking a sow to live in an airline seat. I think it’s something that needs to be phased out.”
Aside from being cruel to animals, this abusive factory farming practice is bad for workers and rural communities (due to the noxious fumes stemming from millions of confined animals), bad for the environment (due to the air, water, and soil pollution from the factory farms), and bad for food safety (due to the unhygienic conditions forced upon the animals).
Sodexo should stop greenwashing and live up to its proclaimed social responsibility standards. The company should immediately switch its liquid eggs to cage-free (which means the hens weren’t confined in cages) and pork from operations that don’t confine pigs in gestation crates.