At Bon Appétit, we believe that to be sustainable, the U.S. food system will require major changes in how the animals we eat are raised.
The vast majority of farm animals are crowded together in confined spaces, routinely given antibiotics, and fattened as fast as can be managed. They are able to express few, if any, natural behaviors in such conditions. Most suffer many physical mutilations, such as debeaking and tail docking, in order to prevent harmful stress behaviors.
“Bon Appétit is demonstrating that being socially responsible is not a bromide or a slogan, but an operational principle.” —Wayne Pacelle, President, The Humane Society of United States
Our purchasing philosophy when it comes to animal products is three-tiered: We believe in supporting small farms, rewarding responsible mid-size ones, and using our market power to influence the big producers to improve their practices.
WHAT WE’RE DOING
We’ve led the food service industry in making the following commitments (see our timeline):
Offering vegetarian/vegan options every day (always): Reducing Americans’ consumption of animal products — which dwarfs the rest of the world’s — is better for our health as well as for that of the planet.
Switching to milk and yogurt from cows not treated with rBGH, in 2002: Recombinant bovine growth hormone (known as rBGH and, in its patented form, as rBST) is a genetically engineered hormone that is injected into dairy cows to raise their milk production. It has been shown to increase the rates of mastitis and lameness in cows, which raises concerns from an animal-welfare standpoint.
Serving chicken and turkey raised without routine antibiotics in feed or water, since 2003: The Food and Drug Administration estimates that as much as 80 percent of all U.S. antibiotics are fed to farm animals. This flood of antibiotics has led to antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” on factory farms and on the meat that comes from them. Such superbugs have jumped to humans and we are running out of effective antibiotics. Bon Appétit is committed to addressing this public health threat.
Switching to 100% certified cage-free shell eggs, in 2005: Bon Appétit was the first restaurant company to make a national commitment to cage-free eggs, striving to purchase only shell eggs that are Certified Humane. Battery cages are not permitted, and the housing facilities must include areas for hens to nest, dust bathe, scratch, and perch. In 2012, we vowed to switch all our pre-cracked eggs to come from third-party verified humane sources by 2015.
“This sets the bar for animal welfare for major food service providers.”
— Mark Bittman, New York Times
Banning foie gras and crate-raised veal, since 2012: While very few of our chefs were serving duck or goose liver or beef from very young animals raised inhumanely, we formally banned these products in February 2012.
Switching our ground beef to naturally raised, third-party-certified humane sources, in 2012: In 2007 we committed to sourcing our ground beef from cows raised without antibiotics (ever), added growth hormones, or animal byproducts in their feed. In 2012 we widened our companywide requirement to include certification from Humane Farm Animal Care.
Phasing out pork raised with gestation crates, by 2015: In 2012, we became the first food service company to take a stand on the cruel practice of confining breeding sows to cages (called gestation crates) that are roughly the same size as they are, 24/7, during their entire four-month pregnancy. We asked our suppliers to stop using gestation crates by 2015 — the most aggressive deadline of any of the gestation-crate bans.
Setting our sights on the highest standards (always): Phasing out battery cages and gestation crates is merely a minimum standard. In February 2012, we also set an aspirational one: moving our supply toward the most humanely raised meat from the most responsible producers we can find. We vowed that by the end of 2015, 25% or more of our total meat, poultry, and egg purchases will come from producers whose practices have been certified by Humane Farm Animal Care, Food Alliance, Global Animal Partnership or Animal Welfare Approved.