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Large Food Vendors Pledge To Buy Chicken Raised Under "Humane" Standards

Modified cages for egg laying hens at Hilliker ranch near San Diego.


Josh Balk is vice president of animal welfare with the Humane Society of the U.S. - they've advocated for reform on animal welfare standards within the so-called broiler industry for years.

Balk says the commitment from Compass Group USA and Aramark to change their sourcing practices by 2024 signals a big shift.

"These are some of the biggest players that there are in terms of poultry purchasing," explains Balk. "Because of their announcement I fully expect the totality of food industry to eventually adopt similar reforms."

While Balk is cautiously optimistic about a domino effect on the poultry industry Tom Mattos with the California Poultry Federation takes a more pragmatic view.

"From our perspective you're going to see more chickens meeting the standards they're talking about," Mattos says. "But in a nationwide basis, I don't see it happening that quickly. 2024? That would be ambitious."

Mattos says the move by Aramark and Compass Group USA - which run dining operations at college and hospital cafeterias across the country - is unlikely to make much of a difference in California because they don't buy a significant amount of their poultry here.

So what would be a game changer in terms of animal welfare standards for the poultry industry? 

According to Mattos it would take a national grocery chain deciding it would only sell poultry from chickens raised within global animal welfare guidelines.

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