BRIDGEWATER, NJ – Applegate, a leading producer of organic meat, cheese and frozen food products, plans to adopt animal welfare standards for broiler chickens that are consistent with the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) 5-Step Rating Program, which replaces fast-growing chicken breeds with “higher welfare breeds.”
Applegate, a subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corp., said the changes will require the company to use breeds of broiler chickens that are scientifically proven to have better welfare outcomes. By 2024, Applegate will improve its animal welfare standards for broiler chickens by:
- Using broiler breeds scientifically proven to have improved welfare outcomes;
- Providing chickens with more space (maximum stocking density of 6 lbs. per sq. ft.) and improved environments, including lighting, litter and enrichments; and
- Eliminating live shackling and dumping while ensuring that birds are rendered unconscious through a multi-step controlled atmospheric stunning before slaughter.
“Animal welfare is an evolving field, and we are continuously searching for ways to improve the lives of all the animals raised for Applegate to fulfill our mission — ‘Changing The Meat We Eat’,” Steve Lykken, president of Applegate, said in a statement. “We applaud GAP for addressing broiler chicken welfare issues and look forward to working with them and other organizations, as well as farmers and suppliers, to ensure that new standards provide the best life possible for broiler chickens.”
Applegate already uses third-party verification of animal welfare standards for the company’s entire supply of broilers and turkeys. Applegate also requires reduced stocking densities, lighting management programs and environmental enrichments from its broiler suppliers. Additionally, the company’s products are made from animals raised without antibiotics, hormones or growth promotants; fed a vegetarian or 100 percent grass diet; free of artificial ingredients and preservatives; and free of added chemical nitrites, nitrates or phosphates.