Corporate Steps Towards Animal Welfare?


For some of us, eating animals comes with difficult ethical dilemmas, but for all of us livestock has a huge impact on our world. Greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation aside, one big concern with livestock production is the overuse of antibiotics and the antibiotic resistant “superbugs” that ensue. A recent study out of the U.K found an extraordinarily high risk to not addressing this threat making it all the more dire that people step up to the challenge. Two corporate food companies, may be doing just that.

Sarah Small of Food Tank recently reported on Panera Bread’s addition to their newly created Food Policy which seeks to rid their supply chain of pork treated with antibiotics:

As part of the commitment to have a positive impact on the food system and provide transparency, the company will eliminate use of antibiotics in its entire pork supply – approximately 3.6 million kilograms (8 million pounds) – and will no longer use gestation crates for pregnant sows by January 2015.”  

Small lists a few more of Panera’s achievements in protecting animal welfare for 2014. It is certainly a step in the right direction, and we’re happy about this choice, but we also recognize that they have a long way to go.

Kristina Bravo of Take Part reports on Carl’s Jr. and its parent company CKE Restaurants will start expanding its sales of its “All-Natural” burger which claims to come from grassfed cows and have no antibiotics, hormones or steroids. CKE Restaurants says that it is responding to consumer demand; the burgers have tested well in a few cities, so they are looking to expand. That is great news about the power of our purses as consumers. Let’s keep an eye out, though. It’s a laudable goal for CKE, but as Bravo reports, the only thing that an “All-Natural” label does is look good on a menu.

Still, the claim “natural” should be taken with a grain of salt. CKE Restaurant’s chief marketing officer told USA Today that the new burger meets the USDA’s definition of the term—which, as TakePart found in a recent exploration of food labels with Consumer Reports, means virtually nothing. The federal agency considers meat minimally processed and containing no artificial ingredients or added color “natural,” requirements that apply to all fresh meat, regardless of how the animal was raised.”

It’s clear that Panera and Carl’s Jr. are not making revolutionary decisions here, it they may be more marketing and “greenwashing” as opposed to anything else. But, this does once again signal the changing tide in our food system. Consumers and advocacy groups are demanding better and safer food and corporate entities are responding. Let’s keep up the good work!


Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson

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