December 20, 2016

Panera Steps Up for Animals!

Chicken

Today, Panera Bread®, a restaurant chain with more than 2,000 locations in the United States, announced a momentous policy to address animal welfare in its supply chain. The ASPCA is dedicated to helping companies transition to a more compassionate and transparent food system and is proud to have consulted with Panera in the creation of this policy, along with other animal welfare groups. 

First, Panera has committed to ensuring the Five Freedoms for all farm animals—a core concept in animal welfare—including long-term goals of phasing out intensive confinement of all farm animals and using breeding programs that promote animal welfare.

Second, Panera’s policy now requires that suppliers address the major issues affecting the welfare of chickens raised for meat. In 2013 the ASPCA released a report called “A Growing Problem,” illustrating the cruel consequences of the modern chicken industry’s selective breeding for fast growth and housing of chickens in crowded, barren sheds. Today’s chickens grow four times faster than birds of the 1950s, a growth rate so exaggerated that birds are predisposed to suffer from severe leg pain, lameness and open sores.  At the slaughterhouse, chickens endure stress and trauma when they are dumped onto conveyors and shackled upside down before being sent through an electrified water bath. Many birds are not rendered insensible by the water bath and pass through the neck cutter or even into the scalding tanks, still fully conscious.

To address these problems, Panera has stated that by 2024, it will require suppliers to:

  • Use new broiler breeds recognized as having higher welfare outcomes
  • Provide birds more space (reduced stocking density)
  • Offer improved environments, including litter, lighting and enrichment
  • Ensure birds are rendered unconscious using multi-step controlled atmospheric stunning

Third, Panera is pledging to hold chicken suppliers accountable to comprehensive standards by requiring welfare certification by Global Animal Partnership (GAP). GAP is one of the programs recommended by the ASPCA as part of our Shop With Your Heart initiative to connect consumers with higher-welfare animal products. We also encourage companies to source from welfare-certified producers.

“Panera has shown outstanding leadership with this multi-pronged animal welfare policy and we hope other food companies follow suit to bring much needed improvements for the billions of chickens raised in the U.S. each year,” says Nancy Roulston, Director of Corporate Engagement, ASPCA Farm Animal Welfare. “The movement to raise animals more humanely is gaining momentum every day. It is time to rethink how we rear animals for food and to support better options in the marketplace.”

To learn more about how to make welfare-conscious choices, visit aspca.org/shopwithyourheart, where you can find label guides, lists of welfare-certified and plant-based products, and tools to help ask stores for higher-welfare options.