Conagra Brands Inc., one of North America's leading branded food companies, announced Aug. 27 that it is taking steps to implement higher standards for the treatment of broiler chickens in its supply chain sourcing practices. The company collaborated with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) on the new goals, which are an expansion of Conagra's existing broiler chicken policy.
"Conagra Brands is committed to the humane treatment of animals, and our belief is that creating quality food for our consumers is more than just putting ingredients together; it also includes how we source those ingredients," said Dave Biegger, chief supply chain officer for Conagra. "We're proud to work with The Humane Society of the United States as well as others in the food industry to take meaningful steps towards positive change in broiler chicken welfare practices."
Josh Balk, vice president of farm animal protection for HSUS, said HSUS "applauds Conagra for addressing the most pressing concerns related to chicken meat production. We're enthusiastic about our long relationship with Conagra and look forward to continuing our work together throughout 2019 and beyond."
Conagra will work with its suppliers, peers and other external stakeholders in an effort to help achieve the following improvements in the treatment of broiler chickens by 2024:
- Source 100% of chicken used in products from breeds or strains approved by either the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) or the Global Animal Partnership (GAP);
- Offer improved environments that meet GAP standards for better lighting, litter quality and other enrichments;
- Provide birds with more space to perform natural behaviors, including a stocking density of no greater than 6 lb./sq. ft., with no use of broiler cages;
- Employ a multi-step controlled-atmosphere processing system, and avoid live shackling or live dumping, and
- Track supplier compliance via third-party auditing.
"We recognize that our 2024 goals require industry-wide partnership to succeed, and we will collaborate across our value chain to further animal welfare while preserving consumer access to quality, affordable food,” Biegger said.