Restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill has announced the latest evolution in its longstanding commitment to animal welfare — an initiative that represents a key component of the company’s mission.
Together with Compassion in World Farming USA and The Humane Society of the United States, Chipotle has been working to address growing concerns about how chickens are raised and processed across its US operations.
With Chipotle purchasing roughly 140 million pounds of chicken annually, this initiative represents a major undertaking for the company and its chicken suppliers.
The most critical issues are: welfare outcomes resulting from fast-growing chickens, environments in the facilities that house chickens, the space allotted to each chicken, and the manner in which chickens are slaughtered.
To address each of these issues, using standards aligned with the new requirements of the Global Animal Partnership’s standard for broiler chickens, Chipotle will work 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 square foot.
- Living conditions. Provide chickens with housing that includes improved lighting, litter and floor enrichments that allow chickens to express natural behaviours.
- Slaughter. Process chickens in a manner that utilises a multi-step controlled-atmosphere processing system.
Suppliers will also be required to demonstrate compliance with these standards via audits by Chipotle’s internal Animal Welfare team as well as third party auditors.
Joshua Brau, Food with Integrity Program Manager at Chipotle said: “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.”
Compassion in World Farming's USA Executive Director, Leah Garces added: “Chipotle is continuing to walk the talk on animal welfare. 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.”
Chipotle joins the company of other forward-thinking food companies who have recently made similar commitments to improve broiler welfare in the US, including the top five food service management companies, Compass Group, Aramark, Sodexo, Centreplate and Delaware North, restaurant chains Pret and Panera Bread® and Whole Foods Market, who became the first major food company to support a commitment to slower-growing breeds and better living conditions for chickens (by 2024) back in March 2016.
Chipotle has already been awarded a Good Chicken Award for higher welfare broiler production in the UK and France.