The National Chicken Council (NCC) this month introduced a set of industry-wide standards for broiler chicken welfare, known as the Chicken Guarantees. The standards are part of NCC’s Chicken Check In program, which enables consumers to get information on how meat chickens are raised.
“NCC and its members remain wholly committed to advancing chicken welfare, continuous improvement and consumer choice,” said Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., SVP of scientific and regulatory affairs at Washington, D.C.-based NCC. “But consumers today are constantly being bombarded with negatives on labeling – no preservatives, no hormones, no additives, no this, never that. Through our Chicken Guarantees, we want to provide the baseline principles that always hold true, no matter what chicken you eat.”
The Chicken Guarantees principles are as follows:
- Raised Cage-Free: The majority of broiler chickens in the United States are raised in large, climate-controlled and ventilated barns, where they’re free to move around, interact with other chickens and have 24-hour access to fresh food and water.
- Free of Added Hormones and Steroid: The U.S. government has banned the use of hormones and steroids in poultry since the 1950s.
- Monitored by Licensed Veterinarians: These professionals provide comprehensive health care programs for every commercial broiler chicken flock.
- Raised by Farmers Trained in Animal Welfare: Farm owners are trained to handle and care for chickens in a safe, healthy and low-stress environment. If farmers or their workers mistreat chickens, they’re subject to immediate disciplinary action, including termination and prosecution.
“As chicken farmers, we understand that it is more important than ever to help define the basic standards for chicken care in a simple way for consumers, to provide them with more information about their food and clarify misconceptions,” noted Jenny Rhodes, a chicken farmer who raises 500,000 broilers annually in Maryland. “We’re always seeking ways to improve the lives of the birds, because without healthy birds, there would be no chicken industry. Whether it’s looking at space and housing, studying different nutrition programs, breeding for the healthiest birds or working to eradicate diseases, we’re committed to continual improvement to do what is best for the bird, and ultimately, the consumer.”
“In addition to the industry’s comprehensive chicken welfare guidelines that chicken producers use and are audited against, and other available welfare programs, the Chicken Guarantees are a simple set of baseline welfare standards that people can expect and understand when they buy and eat any chicken,” added Peterson. “We support choices in the meat case for consumers, but the data clearly show that with so many options, consumers can become confused. We believe that by providing our consumers with facts about chicken care, their choices can become easier. No matter what chicken they choose to buy and feed their families, they can be assured that their chicken was well cared for.”
More information information about the Chicken Guarantees is available at the Chicken Check In website.