Global fast-food chains in African barely show progress in committing to animal welfare standards

AFRICA – Global Fast foods restaurants with operations in Africa have been put on the radar for not adhering to the same animal welfare standards put in place in markets abroad.

Under the recently released ‘The Pecking Order 2021’, the food service operators have been ranked and awarded points across three main elements: corporate commitments, objectives and targets, and performance reporting.

Based on their score, companies can sit in one of the six grades given ranging from ‘Very poor’ to ‘Leading’.

The criteria underpinning ‘The pecking order’ methodology is based on the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC).

This simple, robust set of improvements to chicken production was created by a group of the world’s leading animal protection organisations and draws on the latest scientific evidence.

BCC criteria include the use of slower growing chickens and the provision of more space and better lighting.

Chicken bred in unfit conditions

The report released by World Animal Protection reveals that seven global fast-food restaurants that have set up shop in Africa do not adhere to the same animal welfare standards for their Africa Markets.

It has also highlighted that most of the chicken meat served at some of these well-known quick service restaurants comes from chickens who live in cramped, barren environments with wet caked litter, poor hygiene and sanitation leading to many chickens suffering from lameness and skin lesions.

Intensive farming methods also often rely on routine antibiotic use as a quick fix solution to keep stressed and sick animals alive.

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This over-use of antibiotics is fuelling the deadly superbug crisis that kills over 700,000 people a year. Essentially, not only are these chickens suffering – human health is also being jeopardized.

“Shockingly, many companies have shown no inclination to improve standards, so consumers are unwittingly buying meat from chickens that are subject to unnecessary suffering and cruelty,” highlighted the report.

The brands assessed are Burger King, Domino’s, KFC, McDonald’s, Nando’s, Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Subway, with McDonald’s exempted from the African region.

“Shockingly, many companies have shown no inclination to improve standards, so consumers are unwittingly buying meat from chickens that are subject to unnecessary suffering and cruelty.”

The Pecking Order 2021

KFC, Pizza Hut show signs of commitment in Africa

Taking Kenya as the point of focus in the continent, of the five companies that are found in the country, three scored no points and two – KFC and Pizza Hut, both ran by Yum! Brands, scored some points.

Neither of these companies scored highly with both KFC and Pizza Hut receive 6%, or Tier 6 (Very poor) for only having an animal welfare policy.

In comparison to the abroad markers, KFC is set at the Tier 3 (Making progress) mark, due to alignment with the BCC in seven European markets and reporting on its performance against the company’s chicken welfare standards in Western Europe.

The fried chicken maker is the only company to achieve Tier 1 (Leading) positions in local rankings i.e., Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden and UK for meeting all the criteria.

Meanwhile Domino’s, Burger King and Subway have all signed up to the BCC in other markets but have not made any relevant commitments to chicken welfare in the African market.

Dr. Victor Yamo, Farming Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection says, “Many big brand restaurants are denying billions of birds the chance to grow at a healthy rate or behave naturally.

“COVID-19 has taught us that the welfare of animals and human health is interlinked – there should be no business as usual. Commercial motives are driving cruelty and suffering, and this needs to end.”

While it’s encouraging to see companies like KFC, Burger King and Pizza Hut starting to take chicken welfare seriously in other parts of the world, the results remain extremely concerning in Africa.

This proves that progress is possible, but most companies still have a long way to go to give chickens better lives.

“As more people take an active interest in the ethics of their food, more companies are willing to act. Now is the time for real change to happen, and companies that fail to move with the demands of the market are not only causing misery to millions of animals but are also risking their reputation,” added Victor.

World Animal Protection is calling on these global companies to lead and ensure that any chickens that are being served at their restaurants are guaranteed a life worth living.

The companies assessed in ‘The pecking order’ have a seismic opportunity at their hands and could use their power to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of animals, noted the report.

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