Chipotle Mexican Grill 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. 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 behaviors.
- Slaughter. Process chickens in a manner that utilizes a multi-step controlled-atmosphere processing system.
Suppliers also will be required to demonstrate compliance with these standards via audits by Chipotle's internal Animal Welfare team as well as third party auditors.
"This is one more step forward for Chipotle, and one giant leap for chickens," said Humane Society of the U.S. Senior Food Policy Director Matthew Prescott.
"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," added Joshua Brau, Food with Integrity Program Manager at Chipotle.
Additional information about Chipotle's chicken protocols is available at Chipotle.com/chicken-welfare.