After less than two intensive months of campaigning for change in the foodservice industry, The Humane League — a national nonprofit animal advocacy organization with the mission to save animals’ lives and reduce animal suffering — is proud to announce further progress. Compass Group has announced it will join Aramark and Sodexo, the nation’s largest foodservice companies, in making major changes to their animal welfare policies.
The Humane League, who has been in productive talks with Compass Group for months, applauds Compass Group’s decision to completely phase out the use of battery cages in its egg supply chain — the largest commitment yet and the first one to be implemented. Most pre-existing commitments to boycott battery cages only affected egg-laying hens used in shell egg production (shell eggs are just a small percentage of all eggs used commercially). These new commitments from Compass Group, Sodexo, Aramark and Delaware North Companies extend to liquid egg production as well, making battery cages nearly obsolete throughout the foodservice industry in the United States.
Nearly three million hens annually will no longer live their lives confined to battery cages, inhumane tiny wire cages used in egg production, due to the work of countless supporters of The Humane League. The organization says support during the Sodexo and Aramark campaigns came from students on college campuses — who petitioned their school administrators to end dining service contracts with foodservice companies that still employed battery cage facilities — as well as hundreds of thousands of compassionate consumers who signed online petitions and took to Twitter to demand an end to this animal cruelty.
“Our campaign activities on college campuses, social media and even on the doorsteps of these corporations are having a big impact on the farming industry,” says David Coman-Hidy, executive director of The Humane League. “We credit our success to a dedicated grassroots regional presence that engages local activists and rallies student support on campuses, and our relentless drive to make system-wide change.”
The 280 million chickens raised for egg production are arguably the most abused animals within agribusiness as they endure severely overcrowded, barren battery cages for virtually their entire lives. Battery cage confinement, offering a space no larger than a sheet of paper to live on, impedes hens from spreading their wings or engaging in any of their natural behaviors. This outdated agricultural practice is so cruel that it is already illegal in the entire European Union and several states in the United States.
In recent years, The Humane League has actively targeted this issue by working closely with corporations and universities to boycott farms that use cage systems in an effort to enact broad policy changes across the industry. Other campaigns by the League have brought about commitments from IKEA, Au Bon Pain, Centerplate, Starbucks and others.
“Because of The Humane League’s anti-confinement campaigns, many top foodservice companies and retailers, some who operate across the globe, are now committed to ending their support of facilities that confine egg-laying hens to battery cages and mother pigs to gestation crates,” adds Coman-Hidy. “The Humane League will continue to aggressively advocate on behalf of farmed animals.”
This is just the latest victory for animal welfare, as consumer goods giants and chains including Nestlé, Chipotle, Panera Bread and McDonald’s have all turned their attention to the issue and enacted bold commitments to eliminate cruelty from their supply chains.