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Supporters

An undercover investigator for the Humane Society of the United States recently documented the suffering endured by female breeding pigs held in gestation crates on a factory farm operated by a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, the largest pork company in the world. Many of these pigs develop pressure sores and infections from crate-related injuries and from simply lying in the same position without any room to move. Out of sheer boredom, they engage in repetitive behaviors like bar biting and head swaying — sometimes injuring themselves in the process.

Gestation crates are exceptionally cruel and unsanitary and have been banned by the European Union, New Zealand, and eight U.S. states. In 2007, Smithfield committed to phase out the use of gestation crates by 2017; but in 2009, it said it could no longer meet its self-imposed and very lenient deadline because of economic conditions.  Over the past few months Smithfield boasted record profits. While Smithfield said it would phase out 30 percent of its gestation crates by the end of 2011, it still hasn't re-comitted to its original promise. Now is the time for Smithfield to re-commit to its initial goal to phase out gestation crates completely by 2017.

McDonald's top two competitors, Burger King and Wendy’s, have publicly condemned gestation crates and, importantly, have also begun using gestation crate-free pork. There is still work to do, but these companies are on the right track. McDonald’s itself has condemned gestation crates...but it hasn't taken enough action to remedy the situation.

McDonald’s is Smithfield's largest customer. As one of the world’s most visible and recognizable brands, McDonald's has an enormous amount of influence on the pork industry.

A decade ago, McDonald’s claimed that phasing out gestation crates was “at the top of its agenda.” But after Smithfield halted its progress, McDonald's failed to move on the issue. Now is the time for McDonald's to tell Smithfield that it needs to honor its prior commit and completely phase out gestation crates. If Smithfield's largest customer requests gestation crate-free pork, the producer is likely to follow through on its promise.

Photo Credit: loop_oh

Letter to
CEO, McDonald's  Jim Skinner
Senior Director, McDonald's Global External Communications - Media Relations Heidi Barker
Senior Manager, McDonald's Global External Communications - Media Relations Lisa McComb
and 4 others
Director, U.S. Communications, McDonald's U.S. Media Relations Danya Proud
Manager, U.S. Communications, McDonald's U.S. Media Relations Ashlee Yingling
Manager, McDonald's Global External Communications - Media Relations Becca Hary
Senior Director, McDonald's Global External Communications Lisa Howard
I just signed the following petition addressed to: McDonald's.

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Tell Smithfield Foods it must honor its 2007 promise and phase out the use of gestation crates.

As you know, gestation crates are an exceptionally cruel and unsanitary method of raising pigs for pork. The highly intelligent and inquisitive pigs who are raised in these crates often develop pressure sores and infections from crate-related injuries and from simply lying in the same position without any room to move. Out of sheer boredom, they engage in repetitive behaviors like bar biting and head swaying — sometimes injuring themselves in the process. These crates have been banned by the European Union, New Zealand and eight U.S. states, yet Smithfield--your pork provider--continues to use them.

In 2007, Smithfield Foods said it would phase out the use of gestation crates by 2017. Yet, in 2009 it said it could no longer meet its self-imposed and very lenient deadline due to economic conditions. Over the past few months, Smithfield boasted record profits, so now is the time for the company to re-commit to its original goal.

As the largest customer of Smithfield Foods and one of the world’s most recognizable brands, McDonald's has an enormous amount of influence on the pork industry. Your top two competitors (Burger King and Wendy’s) have publicly condemned gestation crates and, importantly, also begun using gestation crate-free pork. Your company itself has condemned gestation crates...but you haven't done anything about it!

Your own Web site states: "We continue to find evidence that supports our long-standing position to support suppliers who are phasing out sow gestation crates in our supply chain. For example, we are pleased that two of our largest pork suppliers continue to make progress in this area.” Back in 2001, McDonald's community affairs director Robert Langert said that phasing out gestation crates was "towards the top of our agenda.”

Now is the time for McDonald's to tell Smithfield Foods to re-commit to its initial promise of completely phasing out gestation crates. Please immediately and publicly tell Smithfield to re-commit to completely phasing out gestation crates.

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Sincerely,