NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck has taken foie gras, crated pork and veal and eggs from caged hens off his menus.
Puck removed the food items from all of his Wolfgang Puck restaurants and pledged to use only certified, sustainable seafood and all-natural or organic chicken and turkey from progressive animal welfare-compliant farms, according to the Wolfgang Puck Companies.
"Our guests...want to know where the food comes from and how the animals were raised," Puck said in a statement.
"They want to eat healthy food in good conscience, and they know that we can make healthy taste decisions," he added.
Farm Sanctuary, a leading farm animal shelter and advocacy organization, described the decision as a bold move that recognizes the importance of animal welfare to consumers.
"When a highly respected icon in the food industry takes a bold position like this, it has an impact," Gene Baur, president of Farm Sanctuary, in a statement.
He praised Puck for taking steps away from factory farming and hoped other restaurants would follow his example.
Farm Sanctuary approached Puck in 2002 about its concerns about farm animal treatment issues. It also helped Puck's companies to create a plan to address farm-animal issues.
The program, the first of its kind, will affect the companies' 14 fine-dining group restaurants, more than 80 Gourmet Express casual restaurants and 43 venues across the United States.
The chain, in collaboration with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Farm Sanctuary, plans to implement the nine-point plan for animal welfare improvements by the end of 2007.
Farm Sanctuary said it has convinced nearly 1,000 restaurants across the United States to sign pledges not to sell foie gras because of humane concerns.
Foie gras is the fatty liver of a duck or goose, which is produced by force-feeding the animals through a tube. Crated meats are from animals that are kept in small cages that prevent movement or proper growth.
The Wolfgang Puck chain plans to increase its vegetarian selections and said it will send letters to suppliers to promote more humane poultry slaughter practices.