Why This Animal Welfare Organization Is Criticizing American Pizza Chains

As the animal welfare nonprofit The Humane League tells it, the lives of chickens raised for food are short and grim. In its new report, "The Price of a Slice," The Humane League described how some chickens raised in factory farms are bred to grow so large, so quickly, they can barely stand. In any case, the birds are packed so closely together that they can barely move, either. The chickens stand in their own filth, with the lights almost always on to keep them awake and eating until they head to slaughter. Many chickens survive the "live-shackle" slaughtering method factory farms use, only to be boiled alive.

In a recent press release, The Humane League accused some of the biggest American pizza chains of doing nothing to change what the nonprofit called the "abuse and torture" of chickens in their supply chains. The Humane League points the finger at America's top pizza chain, Domino's, in addition to Pizza Hut, Little Caesars, and Papa Murphy's, according to Eat This, Not That!

The nonprofit said in its press release that it is calling on the offending pizza chains to sign the Better Chicken Commitment, which sets minimum standards for chicken raising. Farms that follow the commitment keep chicken breeds that grow at a more natural rate, give the birds more space, and don't practice the dangerous "live-shackle" slaughtering, per "The Price of a Slice."

Pizza gets the spotlight because of its success during the pandemic

Of course, pizza restaurants aren't the only food companies that rely on factory farms for their chicken supply. In fact, chicken might not be high on your list of favorite pizza toppings. The Humane League noted in its report, "The Price of a Slice," that it is singling out pizza chains because of how much they benefited over the past year of COVID-19 lockdowns. Pizza turned out to be America's favorite pandemic food. Combined revenues at Domino's and Papa John's, for example, increased almost 12 percent in the first nine months of 2020 (via The New York Times).

Not only that, but pizza chains are falling behind some of their fast-food competitors in committing to better conditions for the chickens in their supply chains, according to The Humane League. The full list of companies that have made the Better Chicken Commitment includes Burger King, White Castle, Subway, Chipotle, and Starbucks. A handful of pizza chains have signed the commitment, too, including Papa John's, Blaze Pizza, and Oath Pizza, according to the nonprofit's report.