Domino’s Pizza has bucked the trend of restaurants buying meat from suppliers who shun industry-accepted animal welfare practices.
The company’s shareholders rejected a request from the Humane Society of the United States to stop using pork from suppliers who confine breeding pigs in gestation crates.
"We rely on animal experts to determine what is the best way to raise an animal that's being used for food," said Domino’s spokesman Tim McIntyre.
Gestation crates confine pregnant sows and protect them and their newborn piglets from other aggressive sows. Under pressure from HSUS, McDonald’s and Wendy’s have committed to ending pork purchases from suppliers who use the crates.
“It’s a relief knowing that there are still companies out there who base their purchasing decisions on common sense and trust the experts to know what is in the best interest of animals bred for food,” said Lindsay Reames, assistant director of governmental relations for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.
“Animals raised for food in confined housing operations are clean, dry and protected from predators, and they have plenty of food and water. Why shouldn’t Domino’s or any other restaurant buy its food from farmers who take care of their animals using accepted scientific practices?”
HSUS is a Domino’s shareholder; animal rights groups often buy stock in food companies to influence their suppliers’ production practices.
McIntyre said the vote was 80 percent against HSUS’ resolution calling for Domino’s to prepare a report on the feasibility of ensuring that its pepperoni and ham come from producers who don’t use gestation crates. Four percent of the shareholders voted in favor of the resolution, and 16 percent abstained. Those against the resolution voted in accordance with a recommendation from the Domino's board of directors.
The company’s proxy statement noted that its pork suppliers use animals from farms that employ a variety of animal management systems. It also cited published statements from the American Veterinary Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians indicating there are advantages and disadvantages to both caged and cage-free pork production methods.