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National animal-welfare group targets Steak n Shake

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Indianapolis burger chain Steak n Shake Inc. has a new shareholder: The Humane Society of the United States.

The Washington, D.C.-based organization bought $2,000 worth of Steak n Shake stock Wednesday in hopes of getting the company to work with food producers that use humane farming methods.

“Steak n Shake’s complete lack of meaningful movement on animal welfare puts the company at odds with its competition and public opposition to farm animal abuse,” the society's Matthew Prescott said in a prepared statement.

Individuals or organizations that own at least $2,000 of a company’s stock for a continuous year are able to submit proposals that are printed in the annual proxy statement and voted on by shareholders.

Although the Humane Society will not be able to draft such a resolution until next year, Prescott said a representative plans to attend Steak n Shake’s annual meeting this year to advance the discussion.

“We have tried to work with Steak n Shake for many years,” he told IBJ on Thursday. “They have been unresponsive.”

The society is advocating what Prescott called minimal changes—asking the restaurant chain to ensure that some of its eggs are produced by cage-free hens and that some of its pork comes from suppliers who use humane methods of slaughter, for example.

Steak n Shake did not immediately return a phone call from IBJ.

The national Humane Society now owns stock in 38 companies, Prescott said, including Steak n Shake competitors McDonald’s, Jack in the Box and Burger King.

About 8 percent of Burger King’s eggs come from hens not confined in cages, he said—a change the Miami-based burger chain made about a year after the Humane Society became a shareholder. Prescott said the not-for-profit did not file a shareholder resolution to bring about the change.

The society has asked Cincinnati-based grocer Kroger Co. to get all of its private-label eggs from cage-free hens; the resolution will be up for a shareholder vote at the company’s annual meeting this year. Two previous proposals have failed.

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  • Charles
    Charles - The HSUS is not interested in demonizing farmers and we're not out to put farmers out of business. We are interested in having profit margins balanced with animal welfare concerns. No one is saying that cage-free systems are perfect, but with good management, they allow animals to express basic behaviors while minimizing mortality. Regarding your assertion about bacteria levels -- the European Food Safety Authority reviewed all of the available scientific studies of food safety risks in different layer housing systems and found that properly managed cage-free flocks have no higher rates of dirty, cracked, or otherwise downgraded eggs, than caged flocks. This group also found that battery cages have 25 times greater odds of Salmonella contamination than cage-free environments.
  • you call this journalism?
    Real journalists write balanced stories.
    Writing that HSUS "bought â?¦ stock ... in hopes of getting the company to work with food producers that use humane farming methods" implies that most producers don't use humane methods.
    Similarly, "asking the restaurant chain to ensure that ... some of its pork comes from suppliers who use humane methods of slaughter" implies that suppliers generally donâ??t use humane methods.
    C'mon, research more than one source when trying to report the news.
  • Hillary
    No, Hillary, it's not needed reform. Your organization demonizes farmers - all farmers, not just large ones - and then tries to pass laws to push them out of business. On your beloved "cage free" farms, the chickens rip each other to shreds. And because the chickens on cage free farms are free to lay them in their own waste, the bacterial levels are much higher.

    So you tell me, Hillary, why would anyone want to pay more money for a product that's less safe. The endgame for your vile organization is to put farmers out of business and make meat and eggs unaffordable for the masses.
  • Needed reform
    The HSUS believes that all animals deserve to be treated humanely, even those raised for food. Egg-laying hens generally live short, brutal lives in tiny battery cages. Urging Steak n Shake to begin sourcing some of its eggs from a cage-free supplier is a modest proposal.

    Our organization is not affiliated with local humane societies. The HSUS focuses on large-scale animal cruelty issues that individual animal shelters don't have the resources to address. Visit us at humanesociety.org.
    • mmmmmm feces
      If you want to be an animal rights activist, realize there is no such thing as humane meat. They are all slaughtered for our consumption. The most efficient way to raise and slaughter animals for our consumption is to do it on a massive scale while minimizing costs. What would be inhumane is if steak n shake's prices continue to skyrocket ($10+ for a "platter" with 2 sides, and they took away the beloved taco salad! (w/ 1000+ calories, probably why its gone)).
    • garbage
      No, what's garbage is meat from a feedlot. Have you seen where your burger comes from? Do you really want ot eat meat from a place that keeps 100,000 animals crammed together, stewing their own feces?
    • Typical HSUS garbage
      Good lord, when will people finally wake up and realize how dangerous of an organization HSUS is? This is one of their specialties - pushing their radical, anti-meat agenda by harrassing businesses and anyone else who consumes meat. They have no affiliation with local shelters and give almost none of their $100 million+ budget to assist them. Disgusting doesn't begin to describe them.

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