DENVER – Chipotle Mexican Grill has announced a new animal welfare initiative to address growing concerns about how chickens are raised and processed.
The chain, working alongside Compassion in World Farming USA (CIWF) and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), is taking a closer look at “welfare outcomes resulting from fast-growing chickens, environments in the facilities that house chickens, the space allotted to each chicken, the manner in which chicken are slaughtered,” according to a company release.
Chipotle purchases around 140 million lbs. of chicken annually, making this welfare commitment a significant undertaking with its chicken suppliers.
“Chipotle has long been at the forefront of animal welfare issues and enlightened sourcing for our restaurants, and we’re proud of our commitment to the evolution of our already high standards for chicken,” said Joshua Brau, food with integrity program manager at Chipotle.
In order to address the issues of concern using the new requirements of the Global Animal Partnership’s standard for broiler chicken, Chipotle is working to achieve the following goals by 2024 or sooner:
• Improved breeding: Transition to strains of birds bred for measurably improved welfare outcomes.
• Providing more space: Provide animals with more space by reducing maximum stocking density to 6 lbs. per sq ft.
• Living conditions: Provide chickens with housing that includes improved lighting, litter and floor enrichments that allow chickens to express natural behaviors.
• Slaughter: Process chickens in a manner that utilizes a multi-step controlled-atmosphere processing system.
Suppliers will be required to demonstrate compliance with these standards via audits by Chipotle’s internal Animal Welfare team as well as third-party auditors.
“Chipotle is continuing to walk the talk on animal welfare,” said Leah Garces, CIWF USA executive director. “We applaud the company and their chicken suppliers for leading the way in a commitment that will improve the lives of more farmed animals than any other food business to date.”
Additional information about Chipotle’s chicken practices is available at Chipotle.com/chicken-welfare.