chicken fast food canada humane

8 Canadian fast-food chains called out for using inhumane factory farms

Even as a carnivore, I can admit that the meat industry is a horrifying nightmare of things I actively try not to think about. But every once in a while, you get a sobering wake-up call, like a new report released on Tuesday that sheds light on the conditions suffered by chickens destined to end up in your fast-food container.

World Animal Protection released its annual 'Pecking Order' report about current animal welfare standards for chickens raised and slaughtered in vast quantities in order to support the constant demand from fast-food establishments.

And, spoiler alert; pretty much all of the big players in the Canadian fast-food industry scored very poorly for their alleged "inaction on chicken welfare."

Some of the brands mentioned in the fourth edition of the report include the Canadian divisions of international fast-food powerhouses like KFC Canada, Pizza Hut and Dominos, placing pressure on the food giants to improve conditions for chickens on the path between hatching and reaching your plate.

"This year's results tell us that some of Canada's leading food companies are turning a blind eye to the inhumane treatment of chickens in their supply chains, and as a result are not keeping pace with consumer expectations," says Lynn Kavanagh, Farming Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection Canada.

"Companies have the power to improve the lives of billions of chickens, and after four years of assessments, it's shocking that they continue to ignore the science and consumer sentiment on the issue."

The 'Pecking Order' report notes that while some progress has been made in the industry, most fast food brands still score dismally low on Animal Protection Canada's tier list for improvements, calling the 2022 results "unacceptable."

None of the eight fast food brands assessed managed to land an overall Tier 1 (Leading), 2 (Good) or even Tier 3 (Making Progress) status, with six of the pack — or 75 per cent — scoring a Tier 6 score of Very Poor on their targets.

Those Tier 6 brands include KFC, Starbucks, Nando's, Dominos, Burger King and Pizza Hut, all which Animal Protection Canada asserts have made no steps toward improving animal welfare.

McDonald's Canada scored only marginally better, landing a Tier 5 (Poor) score, the slight improvement attributed to the fast-food titan "implementing a more humane method of slaughter for chickens in their supply chain."

The best of the pack was Subway Canada, which still only scored an overall Tier 4 (Getting Started). The report looked at nine countries, and while there were a few Tier 4s overall, not one single establishment anywhere in the world registered a Tier 1-3.

Factory farming is an upsetting truth most of us meat-eaters try to keep out of minds, but the reality is that most chickens raised for meat in Canada live their lives in cramped conditions where animal suffering is reportedly prevalent. According to World Animal Protection, chickens are one of the most abused animals on the planet.

Fast-food brands have the power to be at the forefront of change, which is why Kavanagh stresses that "yearly public assessments of these companies are critical, and while we welcome the progress by some, others must be held accountable for their shameful lack of consideration of animal welfare."

World Animal Protection has created a four-point plan it is asking companies to implement, called The Better Chicken Commitment.

It requires the industry start using chicken breeds that grow at a healthier rate; ensuring chickens are provided with enough space; provide the animals with opportunities to enjoy natural behaviours, and ensure that chickens are slaughtered using more humane methods.

Such measures would drastically improve the quality of life of animals raised for meat, but even implementing some of these changes toward a more ethical mode of mass-producing meat would astronomically increase production costs, and with them, the price of the end product for consumers.

World Animal Protection does not provide a cost estimate in its report, but one could imagine the meat-producing industry — which is already heavily invested in existing factory farming setups — would be resistant to these changes, as would some consumers already concerned over rising food costs.

Lead photo by

World Animal Protection

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