November 3, 2016
Aramark, Compass Group Produce Unprecedented Policies to Address Chicken Abuse on Factory Farms
The Humane League convinces the foodservice industry to adopt new standards to eliminate extreme cruelties in its chicken supply chain
(Philadelphia, PA - November 3, 2016) – Following a groundbreaking campaign by The Humane League, foodservice giant Aramark announced today that it will end its support for some of the worst abuses against chickens by 2024. Earlier today, Compass Group announced a similar commitment after noting the sustained public pressure on Aramark, its primary competitor, to produce a policy for the chickens in its supply chain. Aramark and Compass Group are the first major food corporations in history to announce progressive policies with a public timeline to address the extreme abuses in their chicken supply chain.
The foodservice companies’ new policies address several welfare concerns in its supply chain, most notably the selective-breeding of chickens, which causes the birds to grow grotesquely large in an alarmingly short amount of time and results in crippling injuries, immense suffering, and sometimes death. Details of Aramark’s policy include timelines to:
- Transition to breeds of birds that measurably improve welfare issues associated with fast growth rates per Global Animal Partnership’s (GAP) standards.
- Reduce maximum stocking density to equal to/less than 6 lbs./sq. ft. per GAP standards.
- Provide chickens with enriched environments including natural light, hay bales and perches that meet GAP standards.
- Evaluate with animal welfare organizations over the next year issues related to litter quality, lighting, air quality, and other environmental conditions.
- Render chickens unconscious prior to shackling using Controlled or Low Atmosphere Stunning.
In light of Aramark’s new commitment, The Humane League has placed a moratorium on the hard-hitting campaign that the group had been waging since September 27th. If Aramark’s specifications related to genetics and environmental conditions are not up to par with The Humane League’s minimum standards, the campaign will be reopened and escalated.
The campaign was the first from any American nonprofit to demand food companies release these progressive policies with public timelines to meaningfully address the worst abuses in chicken factory farming. After attempting to contact Aramark’s leadership for six months, The Humane League launched its official campaign when dozens gathered in Philadelphia to protest outside Aramark’s headquarters. A giant billboard depicting an abused chicken circled the company’s headquarters during the protest and for several days following. More than 90,000 people signed the campaign’s Change.org petition, that was led by university student, Marissa Costner. Social Media played a significant role; the hashtag #agonyataramark had over 85,000 hits on Facebook alone. Updates from The Humane League staff and Fast Action Network (an online platform curated by The Humane League that includes over 2,800 advocates) fueled a consistent push on social media against Aramark-operated universities, hospitals, convention centers, and stadiums over the past month.
Nationwide, The Humane League trained dozens of students at Aramark-operated universities to help them launch campaigns to kick Aramark off their campuses. Students handed out thousands of leaflets to those entering dining halls, plastered hundreds of posters across the campuses, and gathered thousands of signatures in an effort to raise awareness about Aramark’s support for animal abuse. Over 500 students were photographed holding posters that read “I want Aramark Kicked Off My Campus”, and the photos were consistently shared with Aramark and university leadership. Off campus, strategic campaign tactics were used to sustain pressure nationally. Facebook ads targeting students and alumni of Aramark’s largest 20 university clients were run, asking viewers to pledge not to donate until Aramark was removed from campus. Videos, websites, and petitions were created to target Aramark contracts where there were no student contacts, including hospitals, stadiums, arenas, and convention centers.
“These are two of the first meaningful policies to provide protections to chickens in factory farms,” said David Coman-Hidy, Executive Director of The Humane League. “I could not be more proud to be part of the thousands of advocates who joined with The Humane League to create change for tens of millions of chickens.”
In early 2015, The Humane League launched a similar cage-free campaign against Aramark and successfully secured a commitment and a firm timeline. This was integral in securing commitments from other foodservice providers, restaurants, and retailers. The Humane League is confident that today’s announcements from Aramark and Compass will once again influence a wave of other companies in the industry to produce similar policies to eliminate the extreme abuses in their chicken supply chains — just as cage-free policies have become the standard worldwide.
Aramark is the second largest foodservice company in the United States, serving approximately 2 billion meals across the country each year. Aramark’s clients include some of the country’s largest universities, such as University of Central Florida, Arizona State University, and New York University, as well as national parks, prisons, hospitals, and more.