Industry News | March 21, 2017 | By Alex Dixon | QSR Exclusive Brief

Burger King Raises the Bar on Poultry Standards

RBI will also transition to cage-free eggs for Burger King and Tim Hortons locations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Latin America by 2025. Thinkstock
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Burger King joined Chipotle, Panera Bread, and Quiznos in an initiative to improve its poultry welfare standards through a collaboration with nonprofit Mercy for Animals.

Under the new policy, Burger King’s parent company Restaurant Brands International (RBI) committed to using only chicken that meets the welfare standards outlined by Global Animal Partnership, an international farmed animal welfare certification program. Burger King intends to implement the changes by 2024 in its more than 15,000 U.S. locations and in Canada.

These standards include: transitioning to using breeds determined to have better welfare outcomes; providing more space by reducing maximum stocking density; enhancing living environments including litter quality, lighting, and enrichments; and utilizing a multi-step controlled-atmosphere stunning system.

Chipotle, Panera Bread, Quiznos, and Red Robin have all recently announced similar initiatives to align poultry standards with the Global Animal Partnership by 2024.

RBI will also transition to cage-free eggs for Burger King and Tim Hortons locations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Latin America by 2025. The company is also committed to sourcing pork globally from suppliers that do not use gestation stalls.

In 2015, McDonald’s announced it would fully transition to cage-free eggs for its U.S. and Canadian restaurants by 2025 and will source pork only from supply chains that do not use gestation stalls by the end of 2022. Wendy’s has committed to using cage-free eggs by 2020 and says it is exploring with suppliers “the potential benefits of alternative housing opportunities and stunning methods” as it relates to poultry welfare. Wendy’s also plans to eliminate the use of sow gestation stalls in its supply chain by the end of 2022.

“Burger King’s commitment to improving the welfare of the chickens in its supply chain by meeting GAP standards will reduce the suffering of millions of chickens each year. It should inspire other leading quick-serve restaurant chains to implement identical commonsense welfare improvements,” says Brent Cox, vice president of corporate outreach for Mercy for Animals, in a release. “It is imperative that other quick-serve restaurants ... acknowledge that animal cruelty has no place in a civilized society. Companies that fail to adopt this meaningful chicken welfare policy will simply be out of step with consumer expectations and business trends.”