Major restaurant chain follows our advice and commits to improve chicken welfare

21 December 2016

Panera is one of the first major restaurant brands in the United States to announce an animal welfare commitment of this magnitude

We welcome the commitment made by bakery and café chain Panera Bread to improve the welfare of the chickens in its supply chain. The move follows our work helping the company identify ways to make change for chickens.

Panera’s commitment includes much-needed animal welfare measures. This includes the use of slower-growing chicken breeds, providing birds with more space, and offering improved living environments with natural lighting and enrichment.

Priscilla Ma, our US executive director, said: “We applaud Panera Bread for this industry-leading commitment to give chickens better lives.

“We’re honoured to have had the opportunity to work with the company in identifying opportunities to improve animal welfare practices, and the steps Panera is taking will have a significant positive impact for chickens. We echo Panera’s call to the wider food industry to work together to bring about sustainable change that chickens need and consumers want.”

Panera is one of the first major restaurant brands in the United States to announce an animal welfare commitment of this magnitude for broiler chickens. Pret A Manger, Compass Group USA, Aramark, and Perdue Foods, the country’s fourth-largest national poultry producer, have also announced commitments this year to improve broiler chicken welfare.

On average, 60 billion meat chickens are raised for global consumption each year. An estimated two-thirds of these animals (40 billion) live in overcrowded sheds or cages with little or no natural light or fresh air, unable to perform many natural behaviors, such as foraging, perching, and dustbathing.

Many chickens will experience painful conditions including lameness, and suffering overworked hearts and lungs as a result of an unnatural growth rate. They can also suffer wounds, skin sores and burns from spending too long in wet, poorly managed litter.

By committing to practical improvements that directly address these severe animal welfare problems, food companies can transform the welfare of the chickens in their supply chain.

Through our Change for chickens campaign, we're calling on major food retailers including KFC, to improve the welfare of the billions of chickens farmed for meat around the world.

We're calling for:

  • the use of chicken breeds that grow at a slower, more natural rate
  • more living space for chickens
  • more enrichments for chickens to engage with and explore, such as perches and hay bales
  • the introduction of natural light in sheds

Priscilla added: “Panera is implementing the far-reaching change for chickens that we’re hoping for from the food industry at large.

“Through the cage-free egg movement, consumers have shown that animal welfare is important to them in their purchasing decisions, and today’s businesses must take this into account. Importantly, Panera has also committed to reporting publicly on its progress in implementing its animal welfare commitments, and we look forward to following the company’s progress.”

“Panera is implementing the far-reaching change for chickens that we’re hoping for from the food industry at large" - Priscilla Ma, our US executive director.
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