Whole Foods Just Made A Big Announcement About Its Chicken

Purchasing an organically grown, ethically raised chicken is one thing, and purchasing one that has been humanely slaughtered is another. This gives us every reason to celebrate when a major national U.S. grocery chain signs on to high-profile industry agreements that guarantee the humane treatment of animals, which also affects the way the meat might look and taste. 

One such pact is the Better Chicken Commitment, which addresses consumer concerns about the ethical treatment of poultry from the time they are raised until the time they are slaughtered and enter the food chain. It is to this commitment, which was started by the Humane League, that Whole Foods has signed on to by promising to phase out suppliers that engage in live-shackle slaughter by 2026.

To be fair, Whole Foods isn't the first to sign up for the Better Chicken Commitment. By signing the pact, they're joining over 170 other co-signatories including food processors like Nestle, Kraft Heinz, Unilever, and fast casual restaurants like Chipotle, Jack in the Box, and Shake Shack. Still, as Grocery Dive points out, the organic retailer is also the first major U.S. national grocer to sign on to the pledge so that should count for something. 

Conventionally grown chickens develop problems

There are business reasons for companies to adopt the Better Chicken Commitment. Its site says consumers are getting more worried about how chickens were being raised for their meat, and that while the overall totals for poultry sales are down, brands associated with ethical practices are still performing well. It also adds that the industrial demand for high yields is resulting in chicken products that are difficult to sell because they develop conditions like woody breast, which makes it hard to chew the meat, or white striping, where fat and collagen create white stripes on the breasts themselves.

It is expected that Whole Foods won't be the last big supermarket to sign on to the commitment. Aldi is also reportedly in talks to adopt the chicken standards for its stores in the U.S, even as it's already promised to adopt the European Chicken Commitment for its stores in Germany and Spain.