- Perdue Farms has announced plans to dramatically improve conditions at its facilities and slaughterhouses to reduce the suffering of chickens, according to a press release.
- Perdue’s renewed commitment comes on the heels of a national survey conducted by animal protection organization Mercy for Animals that found four out of five Americans want restaurants and grocers to implement policies that provide more humane standards for the treatment of chickens in their supply chains, even if it comes at an increased cost.
- Several major restaurant chains — including Burger King, Chipotle, Panera Bread and Subway — have already committed to improving factory farm and slaughterhouse conditions, according to the Mercy for Animals press release.
As much as people love to consume chicken, beef and other proteins, a growing number of shoppers also are concerned about the living conditions and processing methods behind their food choices.
Grassroots outreach, the rise of natural and organic food and exposés such as a shocking video showing the reality of cage-free egg facilities have all stoked concerns about animal welfare. In this environment, businesses have to take action or risk losing sales as they become the target of consumer activism.
Perdue Farms is now pledging to improve the conditions at its facilities and reduce the suffering of chickens in its supply chain. This includes giving chickens more floor space, providing six hours of darkness at night, third-party monitoring of all processing facilities and conducting more research into breeds with measurably improved welfare.
Perdue’s market-leading efforts in place today stem from issues raised in 2015 when an undercover investigation revealed animal cruelty at a company facility caused consumer outrage and substantial backlash. Since then, Purdue has remained ahead of the curve in its animal welfare practices. Tyson hasn’t escaped being the subject of animal cruelty charges either.
Mercy for Animals, a leading animal welfare organization, is urging Tyson, Foster Farms and other poultry producers to keep pace with Perdue by taking similar action. And it’s probably a smart move with consumers demanding increased transparency from meat producers. This includes pledges that the animals are not only fairly treated, but also antibiotic-free and hormone-free.
"Purdue's animal welfare improvements and its promise to meet the demands of companies with progressive animal welfare policies puts other poultry producers on notice," said Brent Cox, vice president of corporate outreach at Mercy For Animals, said in a statement. "It's time for Tyson Foods, Foster Farms, and others to catch up with business trends, consumer expectations, and the latest in animal welfare science by committing to GAP standards and eliminating the worst forms of animal abuse in their supply chains."
More consumers are becoming inclined to go with a brand that is known to be more concerned about animals — and quick to boycott those that don’t. So it is in the best interest of meat producers to take the necessary steps to change their treatment of animals or face the consequences.