chicken welfare

These fast food restaurants in Toronto have the worst chicken welfare rankings

People love chicken restaurants in Toronto — from fried chicken sandwiches to Korean fried chicken to rich butter chicken, the bird is a popular staple in the city.

Even pandemic lockdowns couldn't keep people away from their favourite chicken joints.

But those who love animals and chicken may want to take a look at findings from a Toronto-based charity. World Animal Protection released rankings for the welfare of chickens raised for their meat and supplied to Canada's fast food restaurants.

The report called The pecking order 2021 ranks fast food restaurants globally on "their commitment, ambition, and transparency on chicken welfare in their supply chains."

This is the third year they have released a report but for the first time they added scores specifically for Canadian restaurants.

Intensive, crowded conditions on some farms mean many animals are denied space, natural light and the freedom to move around, World Animal Protection states.

"The way animals are raised now in industrial farming definitely compromises their welfare," Lynn Kavanagh, farming campaign manager for World Animal Protection Canada tells blogTO.

The purpose of the report is to encourage companies to improve chicken welfare in their supply chain, Kavanagh says.

This means aligning with standards set out by the Better Chicken Commitment, which includes providing more space, giving enrichment like pecking hay bales, and adopting slower-growing breeds to give a decent quality of life. Many chickens are bred to grow quickly, which has led to a host of health problems.

The report looked at eight Canadian fast food companies — Burger King, Domino's, KFC, McDonald's, Nando's, Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Subway. They chose these companies because of their global presence, Kavanagh says.

The findings put Burger King and McDonalds at the top with a "Making Progress" score. Burger King's scores are largely the result of the company's signing of the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC) in the USA and Canada.

McDonald's Canada is adopting a more humane slaughter method, called controlled-atmosphere stunning.

chicken welfare

The pecking order report snapshot for Canada. Chart via World Animal Protection

But three companies – KFC, Pizza Hut and Nando’s — received poor scores. Even though these companies have made commitments in the United States, Canada is a separate market, and they haven't made the same commitments here, Kavanagh says.

"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."

Nando's, and Pizza Hut did not respond to a request for comment from blogTO.

KFC Canada tells blogTO that they are "committed to the well-being and humane treatment of chickens and all other animals raised for food throughout our supply chain."

KFC Global announced new chicken welfare guidelines in 2020 that build upon the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare. And in Canada, they partnered with  Chicken Farmers of Canada, who additionally enforces a mandatory, third-party audited Animal Care program that reaches all 2,836 chicken farms in Canada.

"The Animal Care Program for Canadian chicken has a solid, credible, and science-based foundation, and is like nothing else in the world. It is based on the Code of Practice, developed through the National Farm Animal Care Council," the statement reads.

All the information gathered on chicken sourcing is from public information from the companies, says Kavanagh. They give the companies a few months to respond after compiling the report.

"We are not out to get them, we want them to make the commitment," she says. "Ultimately what we want is we want these companies to do well because it means chicken welfare is improving."

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns

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