Applegate, a subsidiary of Hormel Foods that specializes in natural and organic meat and poultry brand, intends to elevate and third-party verify its standards for broiler chickens to be consistent with Global Animal Partnership (GAP) standards by 2024.
These changes will require, among other things, using broiler chicken breeds that are scientifically proven to have improved welfare outcomes.
"Animal welfare is an evolving field, and we are continuously searching for ways to improve the lives of all the animals raised for Applegate to fulfill our mission – 'Changing The Meat We Eat'," Steve Lykken, president of Applegate, said in a press release. "We applaud GAP for addressing broiler chicken welfare issues and look forward to working with them and other organizations, as well as farmers and suppliers, to ensure that new standards provide the best life possible for broiler chickens."
Applegate already third-party verifies animal-welfare standards for its entire poultry supply (broilers and turkeys) and requires reduced stocking densities, lighting management programs and environmental enrichments from its broiler suppliers. By 2024, Applegate will improve its requirements by:
- Using broiler breeds scientifically proven to have markedly improved welfare outcomes
- Providing chickens with more space (maximum stocking density of 6 lbs./sq. ft.) and improved environments, including lighting, litter and enrichments
- Eliminating live shackling and dumping and ensuring birds are rendered unconscious through a multi-step controlled atmospheric stunning, which is universally considered more humane, prior to slaughter
"Applegate has been a leading voice in developing a better and more humane meat production system in the United States," said Lykken. "Applegate blazed a trail in creating demand for meat raised without antibiotics, which others now emulate, and we hope to do the same for the critical issues involving higher animal welfare. More humane treatment of animals should be the rule, not the exception."