Wendy’s starting to be less evil

Wendy’s said Friday it will improve the humane treatment of chickens by using O.K. Foods’ stunning system and the welfare of pigs by requiring suppliers to phase out gestation stalls.

The world’s third-largest QSR chain said it is the first to endorse O.K.’s low atmospheric pressure system (LAPS), which renders birds permanently unconscious prior to handling at the plant. LAPS is an alternative to electrical stunning.

“We’ve studied the LAPS system and agree that it’s a major improvement to industry practices,” said Dennis Hecker, head of Wendy’s Animal Welfare Council and senior vice president of quality assurance, in a news release. “We encourage all chicken producers to embrace this practice.”

Wendy’s since 2007 has given preferential buying to suppliers who have adopted plans to phase out single-sow gestation crates.

“The company is now going further by requiring all of our U.S. and Canadian suppliers to provide their plans to phase out the use of gestation stalls in their operations,” Hecker said.

Wendy’s monitors its animal welfare standards through announced and unannounced audits.

“Wendy’s has a very effective auditing program to confirm animal welfare standards are routinely followed throughout North America,” said animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin, associate professor, Department of Animal Science, Colorado State University. “I applaud their efforts to work with their suppliers to move away from gestation stalls, and adopt the LAPS system which will greatly improve the welfare of chickens.”

The Wendy’s system includes more than 6,500 franchise and company restaurants in the U.S. and 27 other countries and U.S. territories worldwide.