By Gift Briton

Billions of chickens in the fast-food supply chains are still suffering unnecessarily, following a newly released report indicating that the majority of companies are failing to implement meaningful changes to improve the welfare of chickens.

According to the World Animal Protection report dubbed: The Pecking Order, many chickens in the fast-food industry are inhumanly treated by companies who have failed to take their welfare as important, with billions of chickens, every year, enduring chronic pain, skin lesions, and even heart failure caused by selective breeding, with little environmental enrichment in their restricted living conditions.

Furthermore, according to the report, failure by companies to implement improved changes is not only an animal welfare issue but also a threat to human health, with antibiotic overuse in farming fuelling a deadly superbug crisis.

Commenting on the report, Victor Yamo, Farming Campaigns Manager at World Animal Protection urged companies to take urgent action to address animal welfare and human health concerns, adding that they must also recognize that there is no justification for profiting from the pain of sentient beings.

“The Pecking Order is committed to shining a light on the chicken meat industry and encouraging companies to improve their animal welfare policies. While progress has been made by some companies, others must be held accountable for their shameful lack of consideration of animal welfare,” said Dr. Yamo.

The majority of the local companies assessed were performing poorly and very poor in their approaches to broiler chicken welfare in their supply chains and they lacked any animal welfare policy or commitments, with Kenchic having the best broiler chicken welfare in Kenya with an overall score of 42%, followed by Carrefour with a 17% overall score.

To improve the welfare of animals on farms, the report recommends that local food companies endeavor to work with World Animal Protection to develop the requisite Farm Animal Welfare policies that are aligned to the Farm Animal Responsible Minimum Standards (FARMS) and make their commitments to improving farm animal welfare throughout their supply chain.

Also, the report urges global fast-food companies to liaise with their headquarters and franchises in other geographical locations which have developed farm animal welfare policies aligned with FARMS to eliminate the double standards within their supply chain.

Local food companies also need to report on their performance in delivering the farm animal welfare policy to improve their rating in 2023.

And lastly, the animal resource industry in collaboration with the government (Directorate of Veterinary Services, Directorate of Livestock Production, Kenya Bureau of Standards among others) reviews the Food Animals’ Welfare – Code of Practice DKS 2829:2018 to align it to the globally recognized FARMS.