The Wendy's Code of Conduct entails rigorous auditing to ensure compliance among its uppliers.

Inputs and audits

As consumers continue to concern themselves with the foods they eat, and the ways animals used for food are treated and raised, the foodservice and restaurant industry is taking notice and making animal welfare an area of focus when choosing suppliers.

Wendy’s Code of Conduct was created by an internal group at the company with input from its supplier community and professional service vendors. In addition to working with suppliers and vendors on developing the code itself, Wendy’s initiates third-party audits on its suppliers to ensure quality assurance and best practices specifically in the areas of environmental stability, labor practices and animal welfare.

“We enjoy close, collaborative relationships with our suppliers – many of whom have supplied Wendy’s restaurants since 1969,” Roth says. “We engage with our suppliers on a regular, on-going basis and in the case of animal welfare, our suppliers undergo rigorous auditing.”

Quality assurance audits are conducted annually at farms, plants, facilities and other locations in which Wendy’s suppliers operate. The audits include observational questions related to worker welfare, safety and health, in addition to animal welfare.

“We take our role as a responsible corporate citizen very seriously, and that includes the humane treatment of animals. Wendy’s does not own, raise, transport or process livestock. However, we believe it is our obligation to ensure that all our suppliers exceed government regulations by meeting Wendy’s more exacting standards pertaining to the humane treatment of animals,” Roth explains. “In 2001, we formed our Animal Welfare Advisory Council – which is comprised of internal stakeholders and external experts in academia. This group convenes quarterly to review our policies and help inform decisions related to our animal welfare standards.”

Temple Grandin, Ph.D., animal welfare expert, professor of animal science at Colorado State Univ. and contributing editor to MEAT+POULTRY, and other welfare experts serve on Wendy’s external council. Since forming its council in 2001, the company has performed more than 1,300 animal welfare audits to monitor, verify and evaluate proper animal handling practices.

Before becoming a Wendy’s supplier, the burger chain assesses meat and poultry processors’ facilities and its animal handling practices to ensure they meet or exceed requirements. Next, the Wendy’s team of experts audits every supplier. A new supplier is audited twice per year and must get a score of at least 97.5 out of 100 for three years in a row before they can be reduced to annual audits. A failed audit results in a re-audit in 30 to 60 days. Any supplier who fails twice is no longer eligible to work as a Wendy’s supplier.

In addition, Wendy’s audits the auditors, and every supplier receives an additional annual audit from a third-party expert who follows PAACO (Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization) guidelines.