Aramark has faced scrutiny recently due to the use of battery-cage eggs in its products. The company provides food service solutions to several institutions including St Bonaventure.
The Humane Society describes battery cages as cages that allow hens 67 square inches of space, which is less than the size of a sheet of letter-sized paper. Hens confined to these cages spend their entire life without enough room to spread their wings. Caged hens are also denied access to natural instincts like nesting, perching and dust bathing.
The Humane League, an activist group dedicated to reducing farm animal cruelty, was the leader of a campaign aimed at ending Aramark’s use of battery cages. According to The Humane League’s Director of Campaigns Aaron Ross, the first step towards change was alerting Aramark’s clients about the situation.
“When we reached out to Aramark’s clients to inform them about the cruelty involved in battery-cage egg production, we got an overwhelming response,” Ross said. “Their own clients wanted to see this change happen and to move toward less cruel and more sustainable practices.”
A press release by the Humane League credits the campaign’s success to a “grass-roots” approach. College students were encouraged to petition their school administrators to stop supporting Aramark.
Further aid for the cause came from people who signed online petitions and Twitter users who raised awareness.
Aramark acknowledged The Humane League’s campaign, but was reluctant to change their policy.
“Aramark initially tried stalling and kept claiming it would take up to 90 days to start addressing the issue,” Ross said. “So we kept up our outreach efforts, and Aramark released a statement in under two weeks.”
The statement, released by Aramark’s Director of Corporate Communications Karen Cutler, announced Aramark’s plans to move away from using battery-cage hens in its products. According to the news release, it will take Aramark’s suppliers three years to change their production methods to cage-free. Aramark claimed the reason for the lengthy transition is their unwillingness to sacrifice food safety and quality for faster results.
The statement mentioned Aramark’s partnership with The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) as well. Aramark plans to, “release a comprehensive animal welfare policy with HSUS that will address a broad spectrum of issues impacting the treatment of animals for pork, veal, beef, poultry and dairy production.”
“We have taken a number of steps in the area of animal welfare over the last several years, including sourcing 30 million cage-free shell eggs this year and purchasing only gestation crate-free pork by 2017,” Cutler said.
The Humane League is confident Aramark will follow through with their plans to transition to cage-fee eggs by their predicted date.
“Aramark made a public commitment to move away from this inhumane practice,” said Ross. “We are confident that they will live up to their commitment to phase out the archaic practice of confining hens in tiny barren wire cages. We will check in with them for updates periodically.”