PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway stores here have recently adopted several new purchasing policies aimed at ensuring animal welfare. The new policies establish a preference for products like cage-free eggs, gestation crate-free pork, and poultry from suppliers that use controlled atmosphere stunning, which advocates say causes significantly less suffering than the conventional poultry slaughter methods. The increase in cage-free eggs is intended to favor producers who are converting away from conventional battery-cage systems. Safeway, the third-largest U.S. grocery retailer, plans to more than double the percentage of cage-free eggs to over 6% of its total egg sales within two years, and increase the proportion of gestation crate-free pork it offers by 5% over each of the next three years, to a total of 15% percent in 2010, Brian Dowling, vice president of external affairs for Safeway, wrote in a recent letter to Paul Shapiro, senior director of the Factory Farming Campaign for the Humane Society of the United States.
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