KFC has come out top of fast food chains in the UK for the welfare of chickens raised for its meat – while Subway, Starbucks, Domino’s and McDonald’s all fall far behind, according to a ranking by charity World Animal Protection.
The annual league table, aptly named the ‘Pecking Order’ report, ranks fast food restaurants globally and locally on their commitment, ambition and transparency around the welfare of chickens in their supply chain.
In the UK, KFC was the only brand to achieve “leading” status with an overall score of 92%, followed by Nando’s that reached a level of “good” with 78%.
Burger King and Pizza Hut were both assessed as “making progress” with scores of 70% and 67% respectively. Starbucks and Subway ranked at the bottom of the table with 0% and a “very poor” assessment.
Most chicken meat served up by the major fast food chains still comes from birds living in cramped and barren environments with no sunlight, the charity said, with many animals suffering from lameness and skin lesions.
Intensive farming methods often relies on routine antibiotic use as a “quick fix” to keep stressed and sick animals alive, it added.
World Animal Protection said KFC’s work with the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC) – a set of standards for birds’ welfare – and its reporting on its performance against its own standards set it apart from other retailers.
Nando’s, Burger King and Pizza Hut also scored high points for signing up to the BCC in the UK, unlike Starbucks, Subway, Domino’s or McDonald’s.
When contacted about the Pecking Order report, Dominos told HuffPost UK it supports the aims of the Better Chicken Commitment and that many of the processes it has in place meet, or in some cases, exceed its requirements.
“We are pleased to see the report acknowledges our efforts to provide environmental enrichment are in line with BCC standards,” a spokesperson said. “We are committed to working in an open and transparent manner, including supporting our suppliers to ensure that they improve upon the high standards of animal welfare which we, and our customers, expect.”
HuffPost UK also contacted Subway, Starbucks and McDonald’s and will update this article when we receive responses.
“Many big brand restaurants are denying billions of birds the chance to see sunlight, grow at a healthy rate or behave naturally,” said World Animal Protection global campaign head, Jonty Whittleton.
“Covid-19 has taught us that the welfare of animals and human health is interlinked – there should be no business as usual. Commercial motives are driving cruelty and suffering, and this needs to end.”
He added: “As more people take an active interest in the ethics of their food, more companies are willing to act. Now is the time for real change to happen, and companies that fail to move with the demands of the market are not only causing misery to millions of animals but are also risking their reputation.
“World Animal Protection is calling on these global companies to lead and ensure that any chickens that are being served at their restaurants are guaranteed a life worth living.”