New broiler standards launched in the US

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

The guarantees should, in theory, help consumers make informed buying decisions
The guarantees should, in theory, help consumers make informed buying decisions

Related tags: Chicken, Livestock, Poultry

The United States National Chicken Council (NCC) has unveiled a set of industry-wide standards for broiler chicken welfare.

With US chicken consumption at an all-time high, the ‘Chicken Guarantees’ represent a set of consumer assurances to ensure people have simple, clear and accurate information regarding how their chicken is cared for and raised.

The Chicken Guarantees have been launched as part of NCC’s Chicken Check In program, which is designed to serve as a resource for consumers to get the information they are seeking about how meat chickens are raised.

A recent survey by ORC International found that 76% of Americans still mistakenly believe there are added hormones or steroids present in most chicken meat, and 70% believe most chickens raised for meat are raised in cages. Further, nearly two-thirds (62%) of consumers said chicken labels and packaging were confusing.

NCC and its members remain wholly committed to advancing chicken welfare, continuous improvement and consumer choice,​” said Ashley Peterson, NCC senior vice-president of scientific and regulatory affairs. “But consumers today are constantly being bombarded with negatives on labelling – no preservatives, no hormones, no additives, no this, never that. Through our Chicken Guarantees, we want to provide the baseline principles that always hold true, no matter what chicken you eat.

In addition to the industry’s comprehensive chicken welfare guidelines that chicken producers use and are audited against, and other available welfare programs, the Chicken Guarantees are a simple set of baseline welfare standards that people can expect and understand when they buy and eat any chicken,” she added. “We support choices in the meat case for consumers, but the data clearly show that with so many options, consumers can become confused. We believe that by providing our consumers with facts about chicken care, their choices can become easier. No matter what chicken they choose to buy and feed their families, they can be assured that their chicken was well cared-for.​”

The standards fall under the following principles:

RAISED CAGE-FREE:​ The majority of broiler chickens in the US are raised in large, climate-controlled and ventilated barns, where they are free to move about, interact with other chickens and have 24-hour access to fresh food and water.

FREE OF ADDED HORMONES AND STEROIDS:​ The US government has banned the use of hormones and steroids in poultry since the 1950s.

MONITORED BY LICENSED VETERINARIANS​: Licensed veterinarians, who have a professional obligation to protect the chickens’ health and welfare, provide comprehensive healthcare programs for every commercial broiler chicken flock.

RAISED BY FARMERS TRAINED IN ANIMAL WELFARE:​ Farm owners are trained in handling and caring for chickens in order to provide a safe, healthy and low-stress environment. If farmers or their employees mistreat chickens, they are subject to immediate disciplinary action, including termination and prosecution.

Related topics: Meat

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