Quiznos gets to the meat of the matter

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It turns out that Quiznos - the carnivorous, Denver-based chain that gave us subs like the 5 Meat Stack and Prime Rib Cheesesteak, with a double-meat option - has been engaged in behind-the-scenes talks for a year with the most notorious veggie lovers of them all: PETA. (I use the term "veggie lovers" deliberately:check out the banned Super Bowl commercial.)

No, Quiznos won't be going all green, but it will be phasing in the purchase of meat and eggs obtained using "less cruel methods" as part of a new animal-welfare policy made public by PETA this week.

By next year, 5 percent of Quiznos' eggs will come from hens that weren't crammed into cages and 5 percent of its turkey meat will have been slaughtered by "controlled-atmosphere killing," which is kind of like euthanizing poultry instead of the standard method of electrocuting birds before slitting their throats. By 2012, 15 percent of the pig meat will be "crate-free," meaning suppliers won't confine pregnant sows to crates so small that they can barely move -- and then often go insane from the pain of sores created by rubbing on steel bars. Quiznos has also committed to giving purchasing preference to suppliers who use less cruel production methods.

"Although we still prefer that customers stick to the toasted vegetarian sandwich, Quiznos deserves praise for starting to improve how animals killed for its products are treated," PETA vice president Bruce Friedrich says. "Subway and other chains need to listen up and follow suit."

A PETA press release states, and literally underlines, the fact that Subway obtains all of its meat and eggs from intensively confined and cruelly slaughtered animals.

So, it looks like Quiznos has won the latest battle with arch-rival Subway. It's a bold move, especially at a time when the chain's number-one objective seems to be keeping - and touting - its lower prices. But even the Toasted Subs Franchisee Association, which represents Quiznos franchisees and has been critical of its franchisor's policies regarding the food it forces franchisees to buy, as I reported in "You're Toast," is pleased with the new policy: "Anything that helps treat animals fair is okay by me," their president says.

But I guess we always knew that Quiznos loved animals. Just think about the commercials of years past. Remember those furry singing spongemonkeys? And the guy who suckled a wolf! If not, take a trip down Quiznos memory lane.

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