Many household name brands are still falling short on key chicken welfare indicators, according to a new global ranking of fast food restaurants by the World Animal Protection charity.
Although UK companies as a whole came top of an inaugural table of local rankings in the charity’s pecking order 2021 report, Subway, Starbucks, Domino's and McDonald’s are accused of falling “far behind” on their UK corporate commitments, ambitions and transparency around chicken welfare in their supply chains.
World Animal Protection claims that most of the chicken meat served globally by the major fast food brands assessed comes from chickens who live in cramped and barren environments with no sunlight, with many suffering from lameness and skin lesions.
It adds that intensive farming methods often rely on routine antibiotic use as a “quick fix solution” to keep stressed and sick animals alive and notes that the over-use of antibiotics is contributing to the “superbug crisis” that is estimated to kill over 700,000 people a year.
KFC is ranked as the leading UK fast food chain in the welfare of chickens raised for their meat, in what is the third annual pecking order report. It is the only company classified in tier 1 (leading) in the UK which World Animal Protection attributes to its alignment with the better chicken commitment (BCC) and its reporting on performance against the company’s chicken welfare standards in Western Europe.
Nando’s made it into tier two (good) in 2021 while Burger King and Pizza Hut are classified in tier three (making progress) due to their signing up to the BCC in the UK.
Starbucks and Subway ranked bottom of the table in tier six (very poor) reflecting a lack of corporate commitments, objectives and targets, and performance reporting, according to the charity.
Domino’s sits in tier five (poor) and McDonald’s in tier four (getting started) reflecting the fact they have not yet committed to the BCC albeit McDonald’s is considered to have some standards that align with the commitment.
“KFC once again has shown leadership in the UK and Europe since they signed up to the better chicken commitment in 2019, which will improve the lives of millions of chickens. But it is disappointing that companies such as Starbucks, Subway, McDonald’s and Dominos are refusing to change for the better,” said Jonty Whittleton, global campaign head at World Animal Protection.
“As more people take an active interest in the ethics of their food, more companies are willing to act. Now is the time for real change to happen, and companies that fail to move with the demands of the market are not only causing misery to millions of animals but are also risking their reputation,” Whittleton added.