KFC, McDonald’s and Pizza Hut are worst ranked by World Animal Welfare report


KFC has been criticized as Australia’s worst performing fast food outlet when it comes to ‘cheap’ chicken and animal welfare, as well as being accused of being ‘grossly underperforming’ in offering options herbal.

A new report has looked at nine of Australia’s biggest fast food companies and their commitment to chicken welfare as well as the plant-based items on their menu, with McDonald’s also scoring poorly.

Animal welfare charity World Animal Protection (WPC) found KFC ranked last out of nine fast food chains because it did not endorse initiatives to improve welfare chickens in its supply chain and also failed to provide permanent plant-based options for customers. .

Rochelle Flood, campaign manager at World Animal Protection, said it was disappointing that KFC failed to act, despite more than 35,000 people signing a petition last year calling on the Australian restaurant giant quick to sign the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC).

The BCC is a set of criteria for chicken welfare, including the use of slower growing breeds, usable roost space, natural light supply, better air quality and methods slaughter more humane.

KFC’s UK branch and its operations in six other countries in Europe have adopted BCC, but so far KFC in Australia has refused to do so, she added.

Regular consumers of Australian fast food

Ms Flood said KFC’s lack of action raised questions about their priorities, particularly when it comes to chickens having a good life.

“In Australia, more than 75% of people regularly eat in fast food restaurants and companies like KFC have a vital role to play in ensuring that chickens raised for meat have a good life and that people looking to reduce their meat consumption have plant-based options. . They fail on the two key issues for consumers,” Ms Flood told news.com.au.

“Generally, when it comes to chicken welfare, we found Australian fast food restaurants lagging behind, as we also assessed the company’s branches in the UK and the US, where the adoption of chicken welfare and plant-based options is wider.

“But even in Australia KFC is falling behind and while other companies like McDonald’s have guaranteed their chicken supply would be RSPCA certified – that’s a good first step – but it doesn’t go far enough. Yet KFC hasn’t even made that commitment.

RSPCA certification does not currently address the problem of fast-growing breeds, one of the biggest concerns with chickens raised for meat in Australia, according to the report.

A spokesperson for KFC Australia said it supported evidence-based animal welfare improvements backed by science and research.

“All the chickens we use are raised in large barns, which allows the flocks to be raised comfortably and adopt natural behaviors. We require all of our poultry suppliers to be members of the Australian Chicken Meat Federation and strictly follow the Model Code of Practice for Animal Welfare, Domestic Poultry,” they said.

“In addition, KFC Australia requires our suppliers – who are highly regarded in the industry – to pass audits which include monitoring of antibiotic use in herds and compliance with welfare standards. “

Meanwhile, McDonald’s also did not offer permanent plant-based options on its menu, according to the report.

“McDonald’s has underperformed, particularly in plant-based offerings and we recognize they have a plast-based offering in Victoria, but one achievement would be a main meal option available across the country and across Europe. year,” Ms. Flood added.

“It can’t be a limited trial. We want to see them step up. »

McDonald’s did not respond to news.com.au’s request for comment.

2mchickens killed every day

The report found that demand for chicken has soared over the past decade, with the average number of chickens raised for meat each year in Australia rising by 100 million.

Over 675 million broilers were killed in the 2020/21 financial year, meaning nearly two million chickens are killed for meat every day in Australia.

Most of these chickens are factory raised in sheds with 40,000 to 60,000 birds and to keep up with demand, these animals grow three times faster than traditional breeds and have been genetically selected to achieve “slaughter weight”. ” as quickly as possible.

“The cost to bird welfare is significant. Every stage of their life involves suffering,” the report notes.

“A 30 gram chick can reach slaughter weight, around 2 kilograms, in as little as six weeks. This growth rate is equivalent to a 3 kilogram human newborn reaching 300 kilograms in two months.

How Other Fast Food Operators Rated

Hungry Jack’s, Guzman Y Gomez, Pizza Hut, Subway, Nandos and Starbucks have all gained approval to offer plant-based perm options in Australia.

However, Pizza Hut, Guzman Y Gomez and Subway have been criticized for having no public commitment to chicken welfare and for not signing on to any standards.

But Guzman Y Gomez said he only serves Lilydale free-range chicken, which is FREPA accredited and only available to free-range poultry farms, while RSPCA Higher Welfare and BCC are only concerned. barn-raised poultry.

“Guzman y Gomez has always believed in better animal welfare and is the leader in the Australian fast food industry when it comes to chicken welfare,” a spokesperson said.

“In 2016, Guzman y Gomez became the first fast food restaurant in Australia to serve Lilydale free-range chicken in all of our restaurants. To our knowledge, no other major fast food company serves FREPA-accredited Lilydale Free Range chicken, which ensures a higher standard of husbandry in chicken welfare.

“We pay a significantly higher amount for Lilydale Free Range Chicken to ensure the chickens have access to an enriched outdoor range area rather than being barn-raised, which is the focus of this report.”

According to World Animal Protection, the BCC is the only certification currently requiring the use of specific breeds that grow slower and have higher welfare results. “Currently it is not enough to simply offer chickens access to an outdoor range because if they suffer from extreme muscle weakness and bone fractures they will not be able/willing to use that outdoor range at all. This is why it is crucial for businesses to join the BCC,” the organization explained.

“For example, FREPA certification focuses on free range farming, but the domestic standards component of their meat chicken certification largely aligns with RSPCA certification. It doesn’t go as far as BCC because it doesn’t require the use of slower growing breeds.

Pizza Hut and Subway did not respond to news.com.au’s request for comment.

Industry Leaders

According to the WPC, Domino’s Australia was the industry leader in chicken welfare, as the only fast food company in Australia to commit to adopting BCC.

It also ranked among the best for having an expanded offering of “more humane and sustainable” plant-based meal options, according to the report.

To avoid further suffering and environmental catastrophe, the report adds that there must be a shift to plant-based proteins and animals raised to higher welfare standards, but says this cannot happen without the operators. fast food.

Ms Flood is confident there is demand there too with a recent WPC survey finding 61 per cent of Australians think it is important for fast food restaurants to offer plant-based options, while this rises to 76% for Gen Z.

The plant sector is expected to be worth $3 billion in Australia by 2030, according to the Food Frontier report, but Ms Flood said change would happen at a much faster rate if fast food companies embraced it.

Cooling warning

The report also argued that it was time animals were raised more responsibly, otherwise there is a risk that current practices could trigger another pandemic.

Throughout their short lives, factory-farmed animals are given antibiotics to keep them alive until their death date, contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to the report.

“Antibiotic resistance, or superbugs, is one of the greatest threats to global health today. Currently, superbugs are estimated to be responsible for 1.3 million human deaths each year,” the report states.

“This figure is expected to reach 10 million deaths per year by 2050.

“The keeping of large numbers of genetically similar animals in confined spaces also leads to an increased risk of disease spread, including zoonotic diseases that can spread from animals to humans.”