ST. LOUIS – This week Panera Bread announced its intention to initiate an industry-wide effort to improve the welfare of broiler chickens by 2024. The company is also proud to share its continued progress on animal welfare issues and the reduced use of antibiotics across its U.S. Panera Bread and St. Louis Bread Co. bakery-cafe menus.
According to a press release, Panera plans to lead the industry to align its broiler chicken policy with the Global Animal Partnership’s Broiler Chicken Standard. Going forward, the chain says it will work with animal welfare experts, growers, suppliers, competitors and other market participants to identify cost-effective solutions. The hope is to achieve the following across the restaurant industry by 2024:
- 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 multistep controlled atmospheric stunning
“We started 13 years ago with chicken raised without antibiotics because we believed that a national restaurant company could use size and scale to affect change in the marketplace,” said Ron Shaich, CEO and founder of Panera Bread. “Our journey to reduce antibiotics has taught us that truly transformational change requires moves by many stakeholders. It is our hope that leadership by companies like Panera will continue to be a catalyst for animal welfare across the industry.”
Sara Burnett, director of wellness and food policy at Panera, also commented: “As a restaurant serving more than 10 million people a week, we have the platform and purchasing power to encourage positive changes in animal welfare practices. We also have a responsibility to the farmers and ranchers who care for these animals. They have been essential partners over the years and we respect the investments they will need to make as we work together to find economically viable and sustainable models that lead to higher welfare birds.”
Panera also shared an expanded position on animal welfare practices, based on the U.K. Farm Animal Welfare Committee’s Five Freedoms: freedom from hunger or thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury or diseases; freedom from distress; and freedom to express normal behavior.