They are sick, injured, stressed, and living in cramped, filthy conditions. This is the life of a factory farmed chicken. Currently, it’s estimated that 40 billion chickens around the world each year are subjected to significant cruelty in factory farms. In Canada, approximately 682 million chickens were slaughtered in 2016.
These animals are given just over a month to live until they are slaughtered, when they are still effectively babies. Grown with little consideration for them as living, breathing, inquisitive animals, and to meet consumer demand for cheap meat, factory farmed chickens have been genetically selected to grow unnaturally fast. This places huge pressure on their heart, lungs and legs. They live in chronic pain, suffering from lameness, skin lesions and heart failure.
Consumers may be unaware of how horrendous life is for a chicken before it reaches their plate. Now, World Animal Protection has put some of the world’s biggest fast-food chains under the spotlight. The Pecking Order 2018 report is the first-ever international ranking on the welfare of chickens raised for meat. Burger King,Domino’s Pizza,Domino’s Inc., KFC, McDonald’s, Nando’s,Pizza Hut,StarbucksandSubway have all been assessed. The results are deeply concerning; not one of the companies is taking this critical issue seriously enough on a global scale.
World Animal Protection has launched the ranking as part of its Change for Chickens Campaign, which is challenging the fast-food industry to stop the cruelty and suffering in chicken production worldwide by committing to source from higher-welfare farms.
Companies were assessed by publicly available information on three areas: Interest, via policies on the welfare of chickens; ambition, via targets set to improve chickens’ lives; and transparency, via reporting on if they are living up to their promises.
Key findings from The Pecking Order 2018 are:
None of the fast-food chains have a global policy on improving chicken welfare.
In most countries they are not even guaranteed humane slaughter. With some cases, birds are not stunned before having their throat slit. In other cases, the use of the traditional water bath stunning method is used, but is notoriously ineffective leaving many birds fully conscious when live shackled (hung upside down on a conveyor belt) before their throat is slit.
Four companies – McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and Nando’s were classed as having a very poor commitment to chicken welfare because of their inadequate policies, targets and reporting.
Domino’s Inc and Domino’s PLC both received a failing grade.
Transparency is poor, with all companies providing little or no information to show how they are performing when it comes to chicken welfare.
Lynn Kavanagh, Campaign Manager for World Animal Protection said in a statement, “These companies must respond to the growing concerns for animal welfare. They have the power to improve the lives for millions of these vulnerable animals. We will continue to put pressure on them to create a real and positive change for chickens. There is no excuse for the fear and pain that a factory farmed chicken has to go through.”
World Animal Protection will continue to review The Pecking Order every year to monitor the progress of major fast-food brands.