Kraft Heinz plans to improve broiler welfare

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

Kraft Heinz has made a pledge to significantly improve broiler welfare by 2024
Kraft Heinz has made a pledge to significantly improve broiler welfare by 2024

Related tags Better Chicken Livestock Poultry

US food processor Kraft Heinz Company has announced plans to expand its current animal welfare commitments to include higher standards for treatment of broiler chickens in its domestic supply chain.

By 2024, it plans to achieve the following:

*Source 100% of chicken via breeds approved by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) or Global Animal Partnership (GAP) for measurably improved welfare and quality of life

*Provide birds with more space to perform natural behaviours, including a stocking density no greater than 6lbs per square foot

*Provide birds with better environments, including litter, lighting and other enrichments that align with GAP's environmental standards

*Implement a multi-step, controlled-atmosphere processing system

*Demonstrate compliance via supplier verification or third-party auditing, and communicate progress as part of regular sustainability reporting

Michael Mullen, senior vice president of corporate and government affairs at Kraft Heinz, said: “When we issued our global animal welfare policy earlier this year, we underscored our commitment to the humane treatment of animals, and said we would prioritize continuous animal welfare improvements throughout our supply chain. We’re delivering on that promise by joining the food industry in an effort to advance the well-being of broiler chickens in our supply.”

“Extensive changes such as these require significant investment of time and resources, industry-wide,"​ added Mullen. "We recognize the complexity of this undertaking and look forward to collaborating with our suppliers, the food industry and other stakeholders to advance these ambitious goals in a way that is sustainable for our collective businesses.”

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) applauded Kraft Heinz for "addressing the most pressing concerns related to poultry production by requiring a shift in how chickens are bred, housed and processed by its suppliers".

“Kraft Heinz shows yet again that improving animal welfare is a core part of being a successful food company,”​ said Josh Balk, vice president of farm animal protection for The HSUS. “We applaud the company for its continued progress.”

Meanwhile fast food chain McDonald's also pledged to improve its chicken sourcing policies through eight commitments. These are improved farm-level welfare outcomes; better monitoring technologies; transition to sourcing chickens that have been stunned by the use of Controlled Atmospheric Stunning (CAS), a method that is approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the introduction of the McDonald’s Advisory Council for Chicken Sustainability.

However McDonald's policy was not as well received. Brent Cox, vice president of corporate outreach at Mercy For Animals, said: "We applaud McDonald’s for acknowledging that live-shackle slaughter, by which chickens are violently shackled upside down, painfully shocked with electricity, and slit open at the throat––often while still fully conscious––is cruel and outdated and has to go. But the rest of its new policy for chickens completely fails to address the worst abuses these animals endure."

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