A dog’s dinner that’s better welfare than our own

Photo of a small golden coloured puppy, looking into the camera, with their head in a bowl that is labelled with a paw print and the word “Food.”
Photo of a small golden coloured puppy, looking into the camera, with their head in a bowl that is labelled with a paw print and the word “Food.”

While often known for their low-end meat products, there are pet food companies taking animal welfare seriously when it comes to their chicken – leaving many human food suppliers lagging far behind.

In July, pet food brand Campfire Treats announced they are the very first food business in the US to, not only sign, but to fully meet the standards of the Better Chicken Commitment for 100 per cent of the chicken they sell. Campfire Treats follows in the paw prints of UK-based Beco Pets, who made the full switch to all their chicken meeting these higher welfare standards, back in 2020.

The Better Chicken Commitment is a set of science-based criteria that result in better welfare for chickens farmed for meat. It means a transition to using healthier breeds of chickens, kept in better living conditions. When food businesses sign up the Commitment, they specify the agreed future deadline by which all the chicken they use will meet the Better Chicken Commitment standards. Over 500, companies here and overseas have signed up to the Better Chicken Commitment.

It’s not just Campfire Treats and Beco Pets leading the charge. Viva Raw, Savage Cat Food, and RAWR are also committed to the Better Chicken Commitment, working towards meeting all the criteria by 2028, 2027 and 2026 respectively. Closer to home, Open Farm, which operates in Australia, Canada and the US will meet the criteria by 2026, showing that improving animal welfare is not just a trend – it’s a movement.

This raises the question: why are a whole host of human food producers, outlets and retailers, big and small, dragging their feet?

When they first signed up to the Better Chicken Commitment back in 2021, Campfire Treats president and co-founder Marko Wittich said,

“We believe that all animals should be treated with kindness and respect. This includes the farm animals raised for meat, for which we bear a special responsibility.”

Beco Pets has shown that it is possible to meet the standards and still appeal to consumers. Their Founder, George Bramble, said,

“The welfare of chickens in our food has always been important to us. Our customers obviously love their dogs but also have a concern for the wider environment and how our products are produced. As a company, we are delighted to lead the way and be the first in the UK pet industry to sign up to the Better Chicken Commitment”.

What are food delivery brands achieving for human plates?

In New Zealand, most people care about animal welfare and expect food companies to do the same. Already Domino’s Pizza, Bird On A Wire and other food brands are leading the charge. But some are falling behind.

Here at Animals Aotearoa, we’ve been working with big food brands to make and implement more commitments. HelloFresh came to the table in NZ after signing for Europe and the US. But not all companies are willing to move forward to improve animal welfare, Nando’s and Pita Pit in New Zealand in particular. While both brands have signed the Better Chicken Commitment overseas, when it comes to their Kiwi customers, they seem to be serving up excuses.

Their ‘free-range’ marketing may sound appealing, but they conveniently overlook the miserable lives of the chickens they use. They ignore the fact that free-range means very little improvement for the unhealthy breed of chickens they use for meat. These birds struggle to walk and are crammed into sheds in their tens of thousands. Many will never even make it outside

So, Nando’s and Pita Pit, it’s time to step up your game! If pet food companies can do it, why can’t you? Don’t just hide behind fancy marketing – be transparent about the suffering you’re selling and join the ranks of those doing better.

Sign the petition now

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