WUSTL Dining Services to implement animal welfare policies

Changes by Bon Appetit create food service industry’s most comprehensive farm animal welfare policy

Bon Appetit, the food service company that manages WUSTL Dining Services, has announced its new farm animal welfare policy. Bon Appetit announced the changes jointly with the Humane Society of the United States.

The changes will affect meat, poultry and eggs served at WUSTL Dining Services locations on WUSTL campuses.

Under the new standards, Bon Appetit will employ the food service industry’s most comprehensive farm animal welfare policy to date, says Nadeem Siddiqui, director of WUSTL Dining Services.

“Our stance will make a huge difference in the lives of thousands of animals and our guests,” Siddiqui says. “We hope that the WUSTL community will support us in our commitment to make our food supply more humane.”

Bon Appetit’s new policy, which applies to all Bon Appetit-managed cafes nationally, requires:

  • All pork served by Bon Appetit — currently 3 million pounds annually — be produced without gestation crate confinement systems, using higher-welfare group housing systems instead.
  • All pre-cracked (liquid) eggs — currently 11 million eggs served annually — be produced from hens living in cage-free farms rather than hens confined in battery cages. This has been the Bon Appetit policy for shell eggs since 2005.
  • The elimination from menus of foie gras (livers of force-fed ducks) and veal from calves confined in crates.
  • 25 percent or more of its meat, poultry and egg purchases companywide be sourced from producers that meet at least one of the four highest animal-welfare certifications: Animal Welfare Approved, Food Alliance, Humane Farm Animal Care or Global Animal Partnership. These four programs have standards that prohibit practices such as gestation crates and battery cages and require animals to be allowed to engage in their natural behaviors.

All reforms will be phased in by the end of 2015.

According to WUSTL Dining Services, menus will not dramatically change due to the new policy. (Credit: Dan Dononvan)

Effects of the new policy probably will not be noticeable to most WUSTL diners, says Jill Duncan, director of marketing and communications for WUSTL Dining Services. That’s because some Dining Services vendors already meet the requirements, and menu items will generally not change.

For example, beef patties served by WUSTL Dining Services are from Rain Crow Ranch in Doniphan, Mo., a farm already Certified Organic and Animal Welfare Approved.

Much of WUSTL’s pork comes from Geisert Farms in Washington, Mo.; Wenneman’s Meat in Libory, Ill.; and other local purveyors. Although they are not yet certified, WUSTL Dining Services expects they will be by 2015 and hopes to assist in this process.

“The policy should not affect menu offerings unless, by 2015, we have been unable to find enough crate-free pork,” Duncan says. “Then we might have to serve fewer BLTs and ham sandwiches and more turkey burgers!”

Still, Duncan says,
customers can be assured that much of the meat they are consuming is
sourced from farmers with the most strict animal welfare practices.

To meet the new standards, WUSTL Dining Services will continue to actively search for more local and regional partners that focus on animal welfare, Duncan says.

WUSTL Dining Services will host a “Farmer Summit” on the Danforth Campus during spring break in hopes of identifying more vendors. Invitations have been issued to meat, egg and produce farmers in the Midwest region, Duncan says, to engage in discussions of how Dining Services might purchase from them.

Bon Appetit — which purchases food for more than 400 cafes for corporations, universities, museums and specialty venues in 31 states — hopes its new policy will put pressure on farmers on a global level to achieve higher standards in animal welfare, Duncan says.

“The purpose of the policy is to take a strong stand in favor of animal welfare and against animal cruelty, where we can make a big difference in changing production systems or recognizing meaningful certifications of animal welfare,” Duncan says.

Bon Appetit’s new policy is supported by the Humane Society of the United States.

“Bon Appetit has turned ‘very good’ into ‘great,’ setting a new high water mark in the food-service sector,” says Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society. “Consumers are deeply concerned about animal welfare, and Bon Appetit is responding.”