Hillshire Brands, parent company of Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farm, State Fair, and Sara Lee frozen bakery brand products, announced today a plan to begin sourcing pork from producers not using gestation crates. The company plans to complete the transition by 2022.
According to a release from the company, Hillshire Brands is "actively engaged in advancing continuous, fact-based discussions with its suppliers and the industry in general, on alternatives to traditional gestational housing."
"Though Hillshire Brands does not raise pigs, the company's plan is to source all pork from suppliers who use housing that provides the animals the opportunity for adequate movement and comfort, while also ensuring their safety," the statement added.
Hillshire Brands Director of Corporate Communications, Mike Cummins, said the company takes animal welfare seriously.
"We know we share a responsibility to ensure the meat we sell is safe and that it comes from animals raised in a humane way," he said.
All of Hillshire Brands' meat suppliers must complete appropriate audits and certifications before they can work with the company. These are in addition to the supplier's routine animal well-being inspections performed by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service professionals.
Hillshire Brands generates nearly $4 million in sales and has approximately 9,500 employees, according to the company website. It joins other companies and food service organizations that have pledged a move away from gestation crates in pork production. Those companies include Kroger, McDonald's, Wendy's and Oscar Mayer.