The food manufacturer Continental Foods will improve its animal welfare requirements for broiler chickens throughout Europe. After dialogs with us, GAIA (Belgium) and several other groups of the Open Wing Alliance, the company has committed itself to meeting the criteria of the European Chicken Commitment. By 2026, the company will therefore switch to less overbred chicken breeds or hybrid chickens at all locations for all chicken products. As one of Europe’s leading companies, Continental Foods is thus sending a clear signal to the industry for more animal welfare.
We are very pleased that by joining the Commitment, Continental Foods is taking responsibility for the appalling conditions in intensive animal farming. Unfortunately, the legal minimum standards are completely inadequate. By fulfilling the criteria of the Chicken Commitment, companies are counteracting the worst abuses in the broiler industry. Some of the largest companies in the food industry, such as Nestlé, the Compass Group and even Kentucky Fried Chicken, are already working on this long overdue step.
One of the most important criteria of the European Chicken Commitment is the exclusion of extremely fast-growing breeding lines, as these animals almost always suffer from severe health problems. In addition, the animals are given more space and manipulable materials than legally required, as well as natural light in the stables. It is also forbidden, for example, to hang animals upside down for stunning before slaughter, as this causes them enormous stress. Additionally, the stunning methods have to be more reliable than the ones conventionally employed.
Companies joining the initiative have a transition period lasting until 2026 to meet all the criteria. Especially the transition of breeding lines on a large scale can take several years. Compliance with the standards will be monitored regularly by independent inspectors.
Our goal, and that of 30 other animal rights organizations, is for the European Chicken Commitment to ensure the implementation of higher animal welfare standards for broiler chickens in all of Europe. Around 200 companies from the USA and Europe have already committed themselves to meeting the criteria of the commitment. Among them are Unilever, Dr Oetker, IKEA, Frosta and Aramark. You can find out more about the European Chicken Commitment here.