In a joint announcement with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Sodexo, a leader in delivering sustainable, integrated facilities management and foodservice operations, said it has committed to working with U.S. suppliers to further improve the treatment of broiler chickens in its supply chain by 2024.
"Sodexo is taking another important step to improve farm animal welfare," said Josh Balk, HSUS vice president of farm animal protection. "This announcement goes a long way toward addressing the most pressing animal welfare issues within the chicken industry. Sodexo has been a great partner in creating a better food system."
Sodexo previously made a number of commitments to the treatment of animals in its supply chain to include the development of an overarching animal welfare strategy that will:
- Eliminate the use of veal crates from its supply chain by 2017;
- Source all shell and liquid eggs from cage-free systems by the end of 2020, and
- Eliminate the use of gestation crates from its pork supply by 2022.
Its progress is achieved using a collaborative approach with both the supplier and the non-government organization communities to ensure that the commitments Sodexo makes can and will be implemented.
"The United States has the largest broiler chicken industry in the world, with about 19% of its 2015 production being exported to other countries. It totals more than 9 billion broiler chickens, or 40 billion lb. of chicken product last year," said Sodexo vice president of sustainability and corporate responsibility Ted Monk. "Sodexo is committed to working with its U.S. suppliers in a deliberate fashion that improves the treatment of broiler chickens within its supply chain while thoughtfully addressing the impact on approximately 25,000 family farmers who hold production contracts that provide 95% of the U.S. broiler chicken supply."
Sodexo's current supplier of broiler chickens plans to eliminate human-class antibiotics from its production in 2017. Over the next eight years, through 2024, Sodexo will continue to work with its U.S. suppliers on broiler chicken welfare by reaching the following goals for 100% of the chicken it sources:
- Transitioning to slower-growing chicken breeds;
- Reducing maximum stocking density to equal to/less than 6 lb./sq. ft. — per Global Animal Partnership (GAP) standards;
- Providing chickens with enriched environments, including natural light, hay bales, litter, perches and lighting that meet GAP standards;
- Rendering chickens unconscious prior to shackling using a multi-step controlled-atmosphere processing system that's widely hailed as more humane, and
- Providing details on compliance by a third party auditor.
At the global level, Sodexo issued its Animal Welfare Policy in December 2013 and has an Animal Welfare Charter that provides general guidelines and standards signed by its meat and dairy suppliers across the world. The company's commitment to animal welfare is part of its overall commitment to corporate responsibility, which is managed through its Better Tomorrow 2025 road map.
"Sodexo has a track record of leveraging their considerable size and buying power to influence positive change for farm animals," said Rachel Dreskin, U.S. head of food business for Compassion in World Farming. "Sodexo's announcement to move to 100% higher-welfare broiler chickens over the next eight years further cements them as a key driver toward a more responsible food and farming system."
Sodexo delivers more than 100 services across North America.