MIAMI – Animal rights advocates praised Burger King for its new commitment to begin buying eggs and pork from suppliers that do not keep their animals in cages or crates.
"We certainly hope that people will order the BK Veggie Burger when they go into Burger King," said Matt Prescott, spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "But the fact that Burger King has made positive changes for some of the animals killed for its restaurants will send a ripple effect through the fast food industry and show other companies that animal welfare cannot be ignored."
PETA has been critical of the fast food giant in the past.
Burger King Corp. product safety manager Steve Weiffenbach sent PETA two letters, dated March 14 and 20, outlining the company's new supply guidelines. PETA forwarded copies of the letters to The Associated Press.
The fast food chain has already started purchasing 10 percent of its pork from suppliers that do not use sow gestation crates, according to the letter. The company said it will double that amount by the end of 2007.
Burger King also said it will start getting 2 percent of its eggs from hens that are not confined to small cages. That percentage should more than double by the end of 2007.
"That is a huge portion of cage-free eggs available for processing as most cage-free eggs go into the retail grocery business," Weiffenbach wrote in his March 14 letter.
Hoping to pressure suppliers and increase availability, Burger King has told egg suppliers that it will look favorably on cage-free eggs when making purchasing decisions.
"Suppliers will hopefully respond by producing more of these types of products," Prescott said.
Burger King will also give purchasing preference to poultry suppliers that use or switch to "controlled atmosphere stunning," which animal rights groups consider the most humane way to slaughter poultry.