Pret A Manger, a popular restaurant chain with more than 70 locations in the U.S., has committed to landmark improvements for the welfare of chickens raised for its food operations. Pret A Manger will use use only chickens that meet the welfare standards laid out by Global Animal Partnership (GAP), an international farmed animal welfare certification program. Pret A Manger’s landmark commitment follows discussions with Mercy For Animals, an international farmed animal protection organization dedicated to promoting compassionate food choices and policies.
Chickens raised for meat, also known as “broiler chickens,” are among the most abused animals on the planet. They are bred to grow so unnaturally fast that their legs often can’t support their own body weight. Many suffer from constant leg pain so severe they cannot stand, and so spend nearly all of their time sitting in their own waste. Continual contact with wet litter causes extreme feather loss and painful sores on the chickens’ bodies and feet. Even breathing can be painful, as the air around them is acrid with ammonia and the stench of their own waste. At the slaughterhouse, most chickens are killed by being shackled upside down and having their throats cut open while still fully conscious.
Pret A Manger’s commitment addresses these problems through several key reforms. Pret will require that its chicken suppliers switch to higher-welfare strains of chickens, reduce the stocking density of broiler farms, improve light levels and litter quality inside barns, and render animals unconscious prior to slaughter. Third-party auditing will ensure compliance with these higher welfare standards. Pret’s announcement follows similar commitments by major foodservice companies Aramark, Compass Group, and Centerplate over the past month.
Nathan Runkle, president of Mercy For Animals, released this statement:
“Pret A Manger’s commitment to improving the welfare of the chickens in its supply chain by meeting Global Animal Partnership standards will reduce the suffering of countless chickens. Pret A Manger’s commitment should inspire other leading restaurant chains to implement identical common-sense welfare improvements.
“It is imperative that other restaurants, including Noodles & Company—a restaurant chain that continues to allow chickens to be badly abused by its suppliers—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.”