KFC has become the first UK fast food retailer to sign up to new European chicken welfare standards.
KFC UK & Ireland, alongside KFC Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden, has committed to adopt criteria in the European Chicken Commitment to improve the lives of all chickens within its supply chain by 2026.
KFC UK & Ireland said it would be working closely with its suppliers and NGOs to raise the minimum level of welfare standards across the industry.
Requirements set out by the standard include stricter auditing processes, reducing stocking density to give birds more space and investing in “environmental enrichment”, such as perches, pecking objects and natural daylight.
The standard also outlines a need to purchase slower-growing breeds to prevent current practices in the business which can often see fast-growing birds collapsing under their own weight.
Paula MacKenzie, general manager of KFC UK & Ireland, said: “Signing up to the European Chicken Commitment isn’t just a box-ticking exercise for us, we’re doing this because we truly believe it’s the right thing to do.
“Chicken is our business and we have a responsibility as the chicken brand to make sure we’re pushing improvement to chicken welfare standards across our supply chain. Our business depends on the health, sustainability and reputation of chicken farming and our customers care about improving the lives of the chicken we buy.”
Chicken bought by KFC only represents around 4% of the UK chicken market, and combined with Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden, KFC makes up less than 1% of the European poultry market, totalling around 72m chickens.
Vicky Bond, managing director of non-profit The Humane League UK, said: “This commitment, coming from the most recognisable chicken brand, will benefit the lives of millions of chickens every year throughout their supply chain. KFC have taken a huge step in supporting the welfare of animals raised for food through making this commitment and we implore the rest of this sector and other food companies to follow in their footsteps.”
Earlier this year, campaign group World Animal Protection found KFC was among nine fast food retailers with ineffective or no global policies in place to improve chicken welfare.
KFC was graded “very poor” due to a lack of commitments, limited targets, and little data reported.
It was joined by Domino’s (Inc), Domino’s (plc), Nando’s, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, Subway, Starbucks and Burger King. None of the chains scored above “poor”.
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