Iconic chicken fast food restaurant brand KFC has signed up to the European Chicken commitment, joining the ranks of Marks and Spencer, Unilever, Nestle, Danone and the Elior Group.
KFC has pledged to implement better standards for its broiler chickens by 2026 including more space (stocking density to meet 30kg square metre or less), improved enriched provision and healthier and using slower growing breeds, such as the Hubbard JA757, 787, 957 OR 987, Rambler Ranger, Rambler Classic and Rambler Gold or others that meet the RSPCA’s Broiler Breed Welfare Assessment Protocol.
The environmental standards include:
• At least 50 lux of light, including natural light
• At least 2m of usable perch space, and 2 pecking substrates, per 1,000 birds
• Meeting the maximum requirements of the EU’s Broiler Directive on air quality
• No cages or multi-tier systems
Thinning is also discouraged and if practiced must be limited to one thin per flock.
KFC will also have to adopt controlled atmospheric stunning using inert gas or multi-phase systems, or effective electrical stunning without live inversion.
The move will cover 72 million chickens across the UK and Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden.
Paula MacKenzie, KFC chief executive for UK and Ireland, said she hoped the firm’s decision would encourage others in the industry to follow suit.
“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.
“That’s why we are adding our voice to the campaign and encourage others to do the same – because to inspire real change and provoke meaningful action, we need the industry to move with us.”
Dr Tracey Jones, Compassion in World Farming’s director of food business, welcomed the move: “It is truly significant that a fast food giant like KFC and one whose very raison d’etre is chicken should commit to the European Chicken Commitment and we hope many other companies follow their example.
“No single business, NGO or supplier can make change happen on their own. We must all work together and encourage every food business to sign up to the ECC and commit to real, impactful improvement to the lives of broiler chickens around the world.”
Ms Jones added that the animal welfare charity was pleased to see KFC had joined the movement towards plant-based choices with the trial of their Imposter Burger. “Diversifying the protein in our diet and ensuring the meat we eat is from higher welfare sources, is critical to the success of our future food system.”
The burger sold out last month in the limited number of outlets stocking it.
The move puts further pressure on rivals McDonald’s and Burger King as well as leading supermarket companies.