Panera Bread has announced its intention to initiate an industry-wide effort to improve the welfare of broiler chickens by 2024. The chain states that its intention is to lead the industry to align its broiler chicken policy with the Global Animal Partnership’s Broiler Chicken Standard.

“Going forward, we will work with animal welfare experts, growers, suppliers, competitors and other market participants to identify cost-effective solutions for our industry,” the company said in a statement “With help of other market participants, we hope to achieve the following across the restaurant industry by 2024: Use new broiler breeds recognized as having higher welfare outcomes; provide birds more space (reduced stocking density); offer improved environments, including litter, lighting and enrichment; [and] ensure birds are rendered unconscious using multi-step controlled atmospheric stunning.”

“We started 13 years ago with chicken raised without antibiotics because we believed that a national restaurant company could use size and scale to affect change in the marketplace,” said Ron Shaich, CEO and founder of Panera Bread. “Our journey to reduce antibiotics has taught us that truly transformational change requires moves by many stakeholders. It is our hope that leadership by companies like Panera will continue to be a catalyst for animal welfare across the industry.”

“As a restaurant serving more than 10 million people a week, we have the platform and purchasing power to encourage positive changes in animal welfare practices. We also have a responsibility to the farmers and ranchers who care for these animals. They have been essential partners over the years and we respect the investments they will need to make as we work together to find economically viable and sustainable models that lead to higher welfare birds,” said Sara Burnett, Director of Wellness and Food Policy at Panera.

Panera also provided an update on its animal welfare progress. With the introduction of raised-without-antibiotics deli turkey in September 2016, 100 percent of the poultry on the company’s sandwiches and salads are raised without antibiotics and are vegetarian fed.  All bacon, breakfast sausage and ham served on sandwiches and salads are raised without antibiotics and gestation crates for pregnant sows. For beef, 95 percent was grass-fed and free-range, up from 89 percent in 2015. Of the 70 million shell eggs used on sandwiches and salads, 28 percent were cage free. System-wide, 16 percent of the 120 million eggs used across the menu were cage-free.

Panera also shared an expanded position on animal welfare practices, based on the UK Farm Animal Welfare Committee’s Five Freedoms. Panera’s Animal Welfare Beliefs are rooted in a definition of raised humanely put forth by the UK Farm Animal Welfare Committee’s Five Freedoms: freedom from hunger or thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury or diseases; freedom from distress; and freedom to express normal behavior.

For more information on Panera’s animal welfare journey, visit

Source: Panera Bread Co.