Thursday, March 22, 2007

Animal Welfare: Well Done

The Wolfgang Puck line of gormet cuisine products has the right idea on how to improve the status of food animals: lead by example and don't moralize.

Working with The HSUS and Farm Sanctuary, Wolfgang Puck developed a nine-point program for all operations, which includes an immediate end to the use of foie gras, more delicious vegetarian and organic options, and higher standards for animals used for his menus.


The nine points, which will be fully implemented by the end of 2007, are:

  1. Wolfgang Puck has now eliminated foie gras from the menu of all of its dining establishments. Foie gras is produced by force-feeding ducks or geese to the point where their livers swell up to 10 times their normal size.

  2. Wolfgang Puck will not use eggs from laying hens confined in battery cages. Caged laying hens are kept in such restrictive conditions that they cannot even spread their wings.

  3. Wolfgang Puck will not serve pork from producers who confine breeding sows in gestation crates. These cruel devices restrict animals from even turning around or performing many of their other natural behaviors for nearly their entire lives.

  4. Wolfgang Puck will not serve veal from producers that confine their calves in individual veal crates. This inhumane intensive confinement practice prevents calves from even turning around or walking, for months on end.

  5. Wolfgang Puck will feature delicious vegetarian options on its menus, as many consumers who want to eat well and humanely look for these selections.

  6. Wolfgang Puck will feature Certified Organic selections on its menus, as many consumers concerned for their environment and health look for these options.

  7. Wolfgang Puck will send a letter to the companies' chicken and turkey meat suppliers indicating the company's interest in Controlled Atmosphere Killing, a slaughter method involving dramatically less suffering than typical methods.

  8. Wolfgang Puck will only serve chicken and turkey meat from farms that are third-party-audited for compliance with progressive animal welfare standards.

  9. Wolfgang Puck will only serve certified sustainable seafood.

The article doesn't mention that Wolfgang Puck products, already substantially more expensive than competing brands, are likely to go up in price as a result. That doesn't particularly bother me but note that generalizing these principles to the entire food industry would likely make basic food too costly for poor people. Recognizing this tradeoff is necessary for understanding why "Animal Rights" can never be a moral issue.

Having said that, there is a sense in which care for creation is a responsibility of all men. I salute Puck for making this sort of thing available for those that want it and can afford it.

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