Burger King announced yesterday its commitment to use only chicken raised according to the welfare standards laid out by Global Animal Partnership. These new standards will be fully implemented by 2024.
The chain, which is owned by parent company Restaurant Brands International (RBI), joins Chipotle, Red Robin, Quiznos, Panera, and Starbucks in committing to these standards, which include reduced stocking density, improved light levels, improved litter quality, and controlled atmosphere stunning to render birds unconscious before slaughter.
The guidelines also prohibit the use of fast-growing chicken breeds, which currently represent 98 percent of all commercially available broiler chickens in the United States. Selective breeding, antibiotics, and hormones have helped the chicken industry to create these birds, which are generally slaughtered at 47 days weighing nearly six pounds, as compared to chickens in 1920, which were slaughtered at 112 days weighing 2.2 pounds.
Burger King plans to implement these changes in its more than 15,000 U.S. and Canadian locations and will use third-party auditors to ensure compliance with the new standards.
“Burger King's commitment to improving the welfare of the chickens in its supply chain by meeting GAP standards will reduce the suffering of millions of chickens each year,” says Brent Cox, vice president of corporate outreach with Mercy for Animals, an international farmed animal protection organization that collaborated with Burger King on the new policy, in a press release. “It should inspire other leading quick-serve restaurant chains to implement identical commonsense welfare improvements.”
Mercy For Animals specifically called out Wendy’s as one chain that has yet to commit to these animal welfare guidelines, noting that its non-compliance rendered the chain “out of step with consumer expectations and business trends.”
This move is just the latest in a series of efforts on the part of RBI to transition to more humane animal products in its restaurants, following a commitment to moving toward cage-free eggs for Burger King and Tim Hortons locations in the North and South America by 2025 and to sourcing pork from suppliers that do not use gestation stalls.
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