The Chain Gang

Burger King Will Go Humane … In Half a Decade

Score a million for Michael Pollan et al.
Score a million for Michael Pollan et al.

As we all learned in Food, Inc., the fast-food industry plays a huge role in dictating the practices of industrial farms in this country. Today Burger King announced that they plan to get their pork and poultry products from 100 percent cage-free sources by 2017, inadvertently reminding us all that their eggs and bacon currently come from sad, dark places that reek of death and feces.

The move comes just two months after McDonald’s made some similar but decidedly less ambitious promises with regard to their egg and pork vendors, and it marks what will be a major sea change for the nation’s industrial farms, albeit five years from now.

One of McDonald’s main egg suppliers, Sparboe, was publicly exposed in November for their cruel treatment of chickens via a hidden-camera video made by an animal-rights group. The subsequent bad press quickly made both McDonald’s and Target drop Sparboe, and then in February, McDonald’s announced they would be pushing their pork suppliers to stop confining sows to gestation stalls where they’re unable to move and all they do is make babies and nurse.

Today’s announcement means Burger King wants to do them one better with going cage-free, and they stressed the fact that they already source about 9 percent of their eggs and 20 percent of their pork from cage-free sources.

This all comes, perhaps not coincidentally, a month after Wendy’s overtook Burger King as the number-two fast-food chain in the country. Wendy’s current practices include getting a mere 2 percent of its eggs from cage-free hens, and 10 percent of its pork products from hogs not raised in gestation crates — so expect them to step up their game and make an announcement any day now.

Regardless of the cynical, market-share-grabbing reasons that could be behind all this, the news still probably pleases Michael Pollan.

Burger King promises eggs, pork to come from cage-free chickens, pigs [AP]
Earlier: McDonald’s Seeks New, Less Disgustingly Cruel Egg Supplier for Its McMuffins
McDonald’s Asks Farmers for a Kinder McRib [WSJ]

Burger King Will Go Humane … In Half a Decade