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Pecking Order 2021 rates Canadian fast-food franchises


A chicken being raised for meat sits at an industrial farm at an undisclosed location. World Animal Protection is calling for better welfare standards for chickens to ensure that they have things like better ventilation, reduced stocking density, reduced growth rate and the ability to perform natural behaviours.
A chicken being raised for meat sits at an industrial farm at an undisclosed location. World Animal Protection is calling for better welfare standards for chickens to ensure that they have things like better ventilation, reduced stocking density, reduced growth rate and the ability to perform natural behaviours.

Global charity, World Animal Protection, has launched its third annual global assessment investigating the welfare of chickens raised for their meat and supplied to the world’s biggest fast-food chains including KFC, McDonald’s and Burger King.

The latest report called “The pecking order 2021″ ranks these fast food restaurants on how they are performing on their commitment, ambition, and transparency on chicken welfare in their supply chains.

In addition to the global assessment, 14 local rankings have also been created. The brands assessed are Burger King, Domino’s, KFC, McDonald’s, Nando’s, Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Subway. They are ranked in tiers, with tier one being the highest and tier six the lowest.

Key findings for Canada include:

  • Burger King received the best score of 54%, or Tier 3 (“Making progress”) and McDonald’s received 43%, also a Tier 3.
  • KFC and Pizza Hut scored low with 6%, or Tier 6 (“Very poor”).
  • Burger King’s scores are largely the result of the company’s signing of the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC) in the USA and Canada. The BCC includes adopting slower growing chicken breeds, enrichments such as perches and hay bales to satisfy the animals’ behavioural needs and more space.
  • Three companies received zero points for their Canadian policies – Starbucks, Subway and Domino’s, although they have signed up to the BCC in other markets.

McDonald’s Canada also scored points for adopting a more humane slaughter method, called controlled-atmosphere stunning . This is a good start, but sourcing chickens from farms with low welfare conditions is unacceptable for a global brand that has the power to do more, the report said.

Lynn Kavanagh, Farming Campaign Manager for World Animal Protection Canada, says it’s good to see some progress, but all companies still need to do better.

“It is disappointing that Nando’s, KFC and Pizza Hut scored so poorly in Canada given that these companies have signed up to the BCC in other markets globally,” says Kavanagh. “And while it’s great to see KFC Canada offer a plant-based option now, they are still denying millions of birds the chance to see natural light, to have more space to move around or to grow at a healthy rate. Chickens are intelligent, social animals and they deserve better lives.”

In Canada, World Animal Protection has been trying to engage with KFC Canada for about two years, but the company has not responded to requests for a meeting. The charity also has a petition out targeting KFC urging them to adopt the BCC and do better for chickens. So far, 9,500 Canadians have signed. World Animal Protection urges all consumers who may be concerned about chicken welfare to join forces and sign the petition as well.

Meanwhile in Europe, KFC is doing much better and is the only company to achieve Tier 1 (Leading) positions in any local rankings – four in total, which are the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and the UK.

“If other KFC franchises can improve the lives of chickens in their supply chain, why can’t KFC Canada do the same?” asks Kavanagh. She adds that animal welfare must be an integral part of a company’s sustainability policies.

In the meantime, World Animal Protection said it will continue to review “The pecking order” every year to monitor the progress of major fast-food brands.

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