US fast-food brands making little progress on chicken welfare standards

Will Kreznick

NEW YORK, July 20, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Today, World Animal Protection, a global animal-welfare non-profit organization with offices in 13 countries released a new report which exposes the chicken welfare policies of the largest fast-food chains, such as KFC, McDonalds, and Burger King. “The Pecking Order 2021” ranks how global fast-food restaurants are performing […]

NEW YORK, July 20, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Today, World Animal Protection, a global animal-welfare non-profit organization with offices in 13 countries released a new report which exposes the chicken welfare policies of the largest fast-food chains, such as KFC, McDonalds, and Burger King.

“The Pecking Order 2021” ranks how global fast-food restaurants are performing on their commitment, ambition, and transparency regarding the welfare of chickens in their global supply chains. In addition to the global ranking, this year World Animal Protection released several country-specific reports grading the companies based on their commitments in each market. These reports illustrate the wide disparity in welfare commitments by region and the overall failure of global companies to set and work toward global commitments.

For the US rankings, half of the eight companies assessed (KFC, Nando’s, Domino’s, and Pizza Hut) scored ‘very poor’—the lowest possible ranking—meaning consumers may be unwittingly buying meat from chickens that are subjected to unnecessary suffering and cruelty. The other half (Starbucks, Subway, Burger King, and McDonald’s) ranked in the ‘making progress’ tier but no company has risen as a leader in chicken welfare in the US market.

“It is alarming that companies like KFC are committed to advancing the welfare of chickens in some countries but not others. All chickens deserve a life free from unnecessary suffering, yet the region-exclusive progress from companies is leaving billions of animals and consumers behind,” said Cameron Harsh, Interim Programs Director, World Animal Protection, US. “None of the chains scored ‘good’ or ‘leader’ ranking in the US and overall progress from past years’ reports has been minimal. Even companies like Subway that have long-standing policies are not being transparent about their progress toward meeting their promises.”

  • Most of the birds being served at these restaurants live in cramped and barren environments with no sunlight, and many will suffer from lameness and skin lesions before slaughter. Companies are assessed via publicly available information in three areas:
  • Commitment; their policies clearly state how important the welfare of chickens is to the company and align with the asks of the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC).;
  • Ambition; a defined timeline that demonstrates the objectives, targets and promises a company has made to improve chicken welfare and when they will meet them; and
  • Transparency; through their performance reporting, and how clear the company is about living up to its promises on chicken welfare.

Key findings from the US results are:

  • Two companies receive no points in the US ranking—Nando’s and Domino’s. 
  • Three companies–Starbucks, Subway and Burger King–score relatively highly in the US. Starbucks and Subway both receive 67%, and Burger King receives 54%. All three earned a ranking of Tier 3 (making progress). 
  • McDonald’s receives 43%, also earning Tier 3 (making progress). 
  • KFC and Pizza Hut both receive 6%, falling in Tier 6 (very poor). It is disappointing that they both score so poorly in the US, given that they have signed up to the BCC in other markets. These companies should ensure their values are aligned globally and make a stand to improve chicken welfare by signing up to the BCC in the US. KFC, especially, which is recognized as a leader in the global ‘The Pecking Order 2021′, continues to let its US customers down year after year. 
  • While it’s encouraging to see three companies in the US earning scores of about 50%, there is still no progress reporting from Starbucks, Subway, or Burger King despite these companies originally committing to chicken welfare over four years ago. 
  • The two companies receiving no points in the US—Nando’s and Domino’s—have both also signed up to the BCC in other markets. These companies should also ensure their values are aligned globally and make a stand to improve chicken welfare by signing up to the BCC in the US. 

World Animal Protection is calling on these global companies to lead and ensure that any chickens that are being served at their restaurants are guaranteed a life worth living. The companies assessed in ‘The Pecking Order’ have a seismic opportunity  and could use their power to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of animals.

To learn more about the Better Chicken Commitment that will improve the welfare of billions of chickens visit, https://www.worldanimalprotection.us/help-give-chickens-better-lives.

Notes to editors
For media interviews, video and images, please contact Jeanne Turkheimer, Communications Manager at [email protected] or 646-783-2210

World Animal Protection has launched the ranking as part of its farmed animal welfare campaign, which is challenging the fast-food industry to stop the cruelty and suffering in farmed animal production worldwide by committing to source only from higher-welfare farms rather than factory farms.

World Animal Protection’s campaigns for chickens urge the food industry to establish production or sourcing policies that align with a global set of asks called the Better Chicken Commitment that will improve the welfare of billions of chickens. Companies are expected to:

  • Use chicken breeds that grow at a healthier rate.
  • Ensure that chickens have the space to behave more naturally. Cages must never be used.
  • Give chickens the opportunity to enjoy natural behaviors via enrichment — including perches or platforms and pecking objects — natural lighting and high-quality bedding.
  • Ensure that chickens are slaughtered using more humane methods that avoid live shackling and render all animals unconscious before slaughter.

Currently, it is estimated that 60 billion chickens around the world each year are subjected to significant cruelty in factory farms. They are given around 40 days to live until they are slaughtered when they are still effectively babies. During that time, they live in crowded, barren, dark warehouses, Grown with little, if any, consideration for them as living, breathing, inquisitive animals, they are genetically selected to develop unnaturally fast, which places huge pressure on their hearts, lungs, and legs. As a result, they often live their entire lives in chronic pain, suffering from lameness, skin lesions, and even heart failure.

Food companies that continue to turn a blind eye to this cruelty are under increasing pressure to change their ways. This is the 3rd publication of ‘The Pecking Order’ and the organization hopes that future iterations of the ranking will highlight greater progress by companies that are truly leading the way when it comes to chicken welfare.

About World Animal Protection
World Animal Protection (formerly known as the World Society for the Protection of Animals) has moved the world to protect animals for the last 50 years. World Animal Protection works to give animals a better life. Its activities include working with companies to ensure high standards of welfare for the animals in their care, working with governments and other stakeholders to prevent wild animals being cruelly traded, trapped or killed, and saving the lives of animals and the livelihoods of the people who depend on them in disaster situations.

World Animal Protection influences decision-makers to put animals on the global agenda, and it inspires people to protect animals and to change animals’ lives for the better. More information on World Animal Protection can be found at www.worldanimalprotection.us  

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SOURCE World Animal Protection

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