Instead of getting ahead of the issue by promoting transparent operations and honoring what the public holds dear – viz., treating animals humanely – industries fuel the fox-guarding-the-henhouse image, spawning deep suspicion and rising consumer diffidence. They do so despite several economic indicators warning that animal cruelty is bad business.
For instance, mega-corporations like McDonald's realized this, dropping Sparboe Farms after Mercy for Animals showed horrific acts of cruelty – more commonplace than anyone in industry cares to admit – at five facilities in Iowa, Minnesota, and Colorado. Target Corp. followed suit, pulling their eggs off its shelves. Not wanting to be left out, on Apr. 25, 2012, Burger King Corp. pledged 100% cage free eggs by 2017 and elimination of gestation crates for breeding pigs. Dozens of other restaurants have made similar game-changing moves of McDonald's Corp. to require its pork suppliers to eliminate gestation crates.
In addition to pressure from below (consumer), industry has seen recent challenges from within (its own shareholders). In 2009, HSUS filed SEC and FTC complaints against IHOP and DineEquity, Inc. for making misleading claims that it served "cruelty-free" food per "dignified, humane" animal care standards. And in 2011, the SEC overruled Columbus, Ohio-based restaurant chain Bob Evans's petition to block HSUS's proposal encouraging a phase-in of cage-free eggs in the company's 2011 proxy materials.