Animal Advocates Get Pizza Chain to Slice Cruelty

Under pressure from animal rights groups, California Pizza Kitchen adopts more humane methods of farming chickens.

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Internet activism and social media campaigns might seem like ineffective forms of protest, but sometimes those chickens really do come home to roost. Take the case of California Pizza Kitchen, who have agreed to eliminate potential abuses of their farmed chickens after social media pressure from farm animal rights group the Humane League.

The Humane League launched a strategic Internet campaign to pressure California Pizza Kitchen into reconsidering cruel breeding practices that led to significant chicken deformities, and to stop employing a “live shacking” process in which chickens are shackled upside-down and electrocuted in water.  After just a week of the campaign, California Pizza Kitchen released a statement on Feb. 17 agreeing to adopt Global Animal Partnership standards for their livestock.

For their part, California Pizza Kitchen sees the change as improving standards that were already high. “CPK maintains high sourcing and animal welfare standards to ensure the humane treatment of animals by our suppliers,” the company said in a statement to SF Weekly. ” The chickens sourced for our restaurants meet or exceed widely accepted animal welfare best practices within the industry, however we see an opportunity and responsibility to do more. Our recent commitment aims to extend and improve broiler chicken welfare standards to those set by the Global Animal Partnership as well as make additional improvements to humane processing practices. Maintaining these high standards is important to us and our guests.”

“California Pizza Kitchen’s decision to implement these sweeping welfare reforms will greatly reduce the suffering of chickens in its supply chain,” Humane League Executive Director David Coman-Hidy said in a release. “As the momentum continues to grow for companies to address the extreme abuses in chicken factory farming, The Humane League anticipates that policies identical to California Pizza Kitchen’s will be the new standard for a variety of food companies nationwide.”

Despite the name, the California Pizza Kitchen agreement has ramifications well beyond California. The chain has more than 200 locations across the U.S., and locations in 13 other countries.

The Humane League is applying to pressure to several food service chains on the treatment of chickens in their supply chains. They won concessions from Starbucks in late 2016 on the size of coops and slaughter methods used in the coffee chain’s chicken offerings, and are currently lobbying Walmart to raise treatment standards at their Mexican chicken farms.

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