KFC admitted that a third of its chickens get painful inflammations, as well as a host of other ailments including heart and liver failure, because of poor conditions at it farms that supply its restaurants.
The fast-food giant released the cringeworthy report on Thursday, saying it aims to improve its chickens’ health and living conditions. According to the report, the higher the demand for chickens, the worse the health problems are for the birds.
Currently, nearly all of the chickens reared for KFC are fast-growing breeds that take just 30 days to reach slaughter weight. A Thursday report from the UK’s Guardian newspaper said that the “push for high growth rates and maximum amounts of breast meat has exacerbated health and welfare problems for birds.”
Thirty-five percent of KFC’s birds from suppliers in the UK and Ireland suffer inflammation caused by footpad dermatitis that is caused by poor ventilation and litter management. That’s down from more than half four years ago, with top suppliers achieving levels below 15 percent.
The report said that the mortality rate of KFC farms is around 4 percent, meaning that in a flock of 10,000 birds, around 400 are dying or being culled.
That’s higher than the industry standard of between 2 percent and 3 percent, according to the British Poultry Council.
While the unflinching report details ailments like hock burn, skin lesions that occur from ammonia from the waste of other birds, it is being praised by animal welfare groups.
“They have a lot of progress to make, but we’re very happy that they’ve come out with this level of public data and transparency which they can now be held accountable on.” said Lindsay Duncan, campaign manager at World Animal Protection.
KFC said it will switch most of its 34 suppliers to slower growing breeds, which are less prone to disease and injury, and reduce the amount of chickens it squeezes into one coop.
“This report sends a clear message to everyone – our suppliers, our teams and our stakeholders – on exactly what we are looking for in terms of welfare improvement,” said Paula MacKenzie, general manager of KFC UK and Ireland. We know that what gets measured gets managed, and the figures in this report represent a solid benchmark against which we can track our future progress.”