Two large foodservice companies commit to slower-growing broilers

Companies become first in foodservice industry to make commitment.

Compass Group USA and the animal welfare certification program Global Animal Partnership (GAP) announced Nov. 3 what they call “a historic and unique” animal welfare partnership in which Compass became one of the first foodservice companies to commit to slower-growing strains of chickens, improved living conditions and more humane slaughter. The announcement marked GAP's first-ever partnership with a foodservice company. Aramark also made a similar announcement on the same day with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Compassion in World Farming (CIWF).

“A cornerstone of our corporate responsibility platform is a long-standing commitment to sustainable sourcing with a priority on the well-being of animals raised by our independent suppliers,” said Scott Barnhart, Aramark’s senior vice president of global supply chain and procurement. “That commitment is constantly evolving and serves as the foundation for what we expect from our suppliers.”

Both companies agreed to ensure certification under GAP's 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating program for all broiler chickens as a buying requirement across 100% of their business by 2024. Key areas of the standard will include:

* Using approved genetic strains and meeting criteria for any new strains, to be assessed;

* Using enrichments such as hay bales, perches and natural light, and

* Adhering to minimum space requirements (6 lb./sq. ft.).

Aramark and Compass also agreed to require, by 2024, that all broilers in their supply chains be rendered unconscious prior to shackling using a method of controlled-atmosphere killing. Additionally, the companies will annually benchmark their progress and publically report performance.

"This partnership underscores our Envision 2020 principles and creates positive impact for people, animals and the planet while balancing social, environmental and ethical responsibility with commercial success. Very simply, it's just the right thing to do," said Rick Post, chief operating officer for Compass Group USA.

Anne Malleau, executive director of GAP, said, "We are very proud to have this historic, first-ever partnership with a foodservice company. We are committed to supporting Compass in this transition by providing training material, assistance and benchmarking to help them reach their goals by 2024. It represents an extraordinary agreement."

GAP announced in March 2016 that it would create a new standard by 2024 for approved strains of chickens with better welfare outcomes, including healthier breeds. GAP said the standard also gives birds natural light, more space and enrichments to encourage natural behavior and better health. Whole Foods Market simultaneously agreed to adhere to this standard.

GAP claims that the majority of broilers today are “from strains that grow so large so fast that they can have difficulty walking and suffer from heart attacks and other significant health issues.” As such, the organization said the agreement “not only phases out unhealthy strains of birds but also commits to improving their living conditions by creating standards for space, enrichment and natural light – all of which encourage natural behaviors and better health.”

The agreement also means a transformation in the way chickens are slaughtered, requiring that they be rendered insensible before they are shackled upside down at slaughter, GAP added.

CIWF and HSUS applauded the announcements as both organizations are on the board of GAP.

Aramark said it also supports the formation of an animal welfare roundtable engaging foodservice/restaurant companies and suppliers with animal welfare, health, environmental and agricultural organizations to address a groundbreaking shift in animal welfare.

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