Wendy’s Animal Welfare Council today announced two major improvements to its animal welfare standards to significantly improve the humane treatment of chickens and pigs.
“Wendy’s takes our role as a responsible corporate citizen very seriously, which includes the humane treatment of animals,” says Dennis Hecker, head of Wendy’s Animal Welfare Council and SVP of Quality Assurance. “For more than a decade, our council has set industry leading standards for animal welfare.”
One of Wendy’s chicken suppliers, O.K. Foods, Inc. of Fort Smith, Arkansas, has installed an innovative system that significantly improves the welfare of chickens. Called LAPS (low atmospheric pressure system), it produces permanent unconsciousness in the bird before any handling by plant workers. It also replaces the industry standard practice of electrical stunning of chickens.
“We’ve studied the LAPS system and agree that it’s a major improvement to industry practices,” Hecker says. “We encourage all chicken producers to embrace this practice.”
Wendy’s is the first quick-serve restaurant chain to endorse the LAPS system.
In addition to improving the humane treatment of chickens, Wendy’s is working with its U.S. and Canadian pork suppliers to eliminate the use of sow gestation stalls over time.
The company believes confining sows in gestation stalls is not sustainable over the long term, and moving away from this practice is the right thing to do.
Since 2007, Wendy’s has given preferential buying to those suppliers who adopt an ongoing plan to phase out single sow gestation stalls. As a result, a steadily increasing portion of the Company’s pork supply has come from hogs not raised in gestation stalls.
“The Company is now going further by requiring all of our U.S. and Canadian suppliers to provide their plans to phase out the use of gestation stalls in their operations,” Hecker says.
Animal Welfare Audits
To monitor and enforce Wendy’s high standards for animal welfare, all Wendy’s beef, poultry, and pork suppliers in the U.S. and Canada are regularly audited through announced and unannounced visits by trained inspectors.
Nearly 1,200 audits have been conducted over the last 11 years. Importantly, suppliers who fail to meet the Company’s animal welfare standards are terminated.
“Wendy’s has a very effective auditing program to confirm animal welfare standards are routinely followed throughout North America,” says renowned animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin, associate professor, department of animal science, Colorado State University. “I applaud their efforts to work with their suppliers to move away from gestation stalls, and adopt the LAPS system which will greatly improve the welfare of chickens.”
Formed in 2001, Wendy’s Animal Welfare Council meets regularly to review and strengthen the Company’s animal welfare standards. The Company works with leading experts and its suppliers to research, evaluate, and implement advances in the science of animal handling and care.
“We believe that humane animal handling methods not only prevent needless suffering by the animals, but can result in a better and safer working environment for workers in farm and livestock industries,” Hecker says.
To learn more about Wendy’s Animal Welfare Program, visit the Company’s corporate website at www.aboutwendys.com.