EUROPE – Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) has unveiled the results of its second European Chicken Track, a comprehensive assessment measuring the progress of food companies in meeting the higher welfare standards outlined in the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC).

This initiative, launched in 2021, aims to drive compliance, foster transparency, and facilitate the transition to higher welfare standards for broiler chickens across Europe.

Currently, over 380 companies have pledged their commitment to the BCC, promising to provide consumers with products sourced from healthier and happier chickens. These companies span various sectors, including retailers, restaurants, manufacturers, food service providers, and hospitality businesses.

The Chicken Track 2023 report evaluates the progress of 85 companies across eight European countries based on their adherence to science-based criteria essential for enhancing the well-being of broiler chickens.

These criteria encompass providing more living space, offering enrichment and natural light, employing humane slaughter methods, and crucially, transitioning to slower-growing breeds that are paramount for chicken welfare.

One notable finding from the report is the increased number of companies reporting on their progress, rising from 39% in 2022 to 65% in 2023.

However, a significant portion of companies still lag behind in transitioning to slower-growing breeds and reducing stocking density, which are fundamental for realizing the full welfare benefits for chickens raised for meat.

Among the companies reporting progress for the first time in 2023 are well-known names such as Burger King (France), Domino’s Pizza Enterprises (Europe), and Carrefour in Poland, Italy, and Spain. However, there are still 30 companies that have yet to commence reporting.

France leads in BCC commitments, with 28 companies signed up, including major retailers, of which 20 are actively reporting progress. The United Kingdom follows closely with 18 committed companies, including notable names like TGI Fridays (UK) and Premier Foods PLC, both reporting progress for the first time.

Norsk Kylling stands out as the sole company achieving 100% compliance across all BCC criteria, while several others have achieved full compliance in specific criteria such as natural light, enrichment, stocking density, breed selection, and humane slaughter methods.

The global poultry industry slaughters an estimated 70 billion chickens annually, with a majority being fast-growing breeds raised in overcrowded conditions. This practice poses significant health risks for chickens, ranging from heart defects to compromised immune systems, leading to a poor quality of life.

Dr. Tracey Jones, Global Director for Food Business at Compassion, emphasizes the importance of ongoing efforts to improve chicken welfare standards despite challenges such as the cost-of-living crisis.

Higher welfare standards, according to her, should be the baseline norm, and continued progress is essential to ensure millions of broiler chickens lead healthier, happier lives.

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