We're 'thrilled' as KFC commits to improving chicken welfare
Most of the UK's more than one billion meat chickens live in 'unacceptable' conditions - but this fast-food restaurant has committed to raising its standards.
Our campaigners are 'thrilled' that one of the world's largest fast-food chains has committed to a significant improvement in meat chicken welfare.
More meat chickens are reared each year in the UK than any other land animal (over one billion) and a vast majority are kept in conditions which we know to be unacceptable and puts huge numbers of chickens at risk of suffering.
KFC joins Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Nestlé and Knorr
All of who have also signed up to the Better Chicken Commitment, pledging to meet a number of key requirements to improve the welfare of meat chickens across their entire supply, meaning that even the cheapest chicken products will have been raised to higher standards.
We launched a campaign earlier this year calling on retailers to sign up to the commitment and our data revealed shoppers expect supermarkets to ensure higher animal welfare for chicken products on their shelves.
Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and others yet to sign up
The requirements for the commitment have been drawn up by a partnership of animal protection groups, ourselves included. We're now urging other names such as Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Aldi, Lidl, Coop and Morrisons to follow suit and commit to raising welfare standards across their supply chain of chicken by 2026.
We have long had serious concerns about intensively reared birds. The most popular breeds have been genetically selected to grow so fast that many often struggle to walk or stand, and can suffer from severe heart defects.
Other serious concerns are that meat chickens are not given enough space to easily move around and be active or flap their wings freely. In fact, by the time they are fully grown, each bird is allocated less space than an egg-laying hen kept in a cage.
The Better Chicken Commitment calls on retailers to address the most pressing welfare concerns in meat chicken production. This is achieved through the use of higher welfare breeds of chickens as well as through providing natural light, more space, enrichment (such as straw bales and objects to peck at) and perching. It also involves adopting more humane methods of slaughter. We have long campaigned on these issues.
Customers expect brands to ensure high standards of animal welfare
Claire Williams, campaign manager for the Better Chicken Commitment, said:
"We're absolutely thrilled that KFC has signed up, showing that their restaurants are committed to improving welfare standards for the animals in this industry.
"Customers expect brands to ensure high standards of animal welfare and KFC has today taken a big step in committing to those higher standards.
"We're now really pleased to have one of the UK's largest fast-food chains, two of the country's leading supermarkets and a number of other major brands on board. This is a great step for meat chickens and consumers.
Animal welfare cannot go on being ignored
"Our polling shows that more than 8 out of 10 people (86 percent) who buy chicken meat expect the supermarkets to ensure that all chicken meat they sell is farmed to higher welfare standards.
"More meat chickens are produced than any other terrestrial farm animal in the UK, with over 1 billion reared each year.
"But despite this rapidly growing demand, there's been little progress made in improving the welfare of the majority of chickens bred for their meat, especially in key areas related to welfare. Fast-growing breeds still dominate the market; despite the fact that rapid growth can contribute to painful conditions such as severe lameness and heart defects.
Though some supermarkets may offer a high welfare option, this commitment is calling on them to raise the welfare of chickens across their supply.
The Better Chicken Commitment is a great step in the right direction for animal welfare
"Of course, we would like to see all supermarkets adopt RSPCA standards, but the Better Chicken Commitment is a great step in the right direction for animal welfare."
Our team has been busy lobbying supermarkets to sign up to the commitment while Humane League UK and World Animals Protection have been focused on the fast-food restaurants.
Shoppers who care about chicken welfare can look for RSPCA Assured labelled products which are on sale in Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Morrison's, Booths and Sainsbury's. In order to have the RSPCA Assured label farmers have to meet the RSPCA's strict welfare standards so you can be confident in your choice.