The Humane Society of the United States released its first Food Industry Scorecard, an initiative that ranks the nation’s major food companies’ progress toward reducing animal suffering. The year-long audit examined the supply chains of nearly 100 food companies and ranked them based on their promises and concrete actions taken to mitigate cruel practices.
The initiative follows public pledges by America’s top food companies to make animal welfare reforms. In response to consumer concerns about factory farming, the survey focused on three pressing concerns: hens confined in cages, pigs confined in gestation crates and chickens suffering in poultry production. It also included a question about plant-based options, since diversifying protein in the food industry reduces the demand for factory-farmed products.
While the Scorecard found that many companies made commendable progress, it also found that some made no progress, minimal progress or simply did not keep their promises. Other companies seemed to have backtracked altogether.
Whole Foods Market ranked the highest of all companies, earning a near perfect score. The Scorecard noted that Whole Foods had fully eliminated cruel practices like battery cages and gestation crates from its supply chain before any other major food company even adopted timelines for phasing out these practices. The company also had the best poultry welfare program of any grocer and is responsible for the spread of plant-based proteins more than almost any other company in the country.
Chipotle Mexican Grill, Bon Appetit Management Co. and Unilever also earned A+ grades for the “robust animal welfare policies they either fully or substantially implemented,” according to a press release.
At the other end of the spectrum, numerous companies earned failing grades, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Starbucks, Walmart and Tyson Foods. Failing grades were given to companies that lacked any meaningful policies to reform animal welfare, inaccurately reported their gestation crate or cage-free egg progress or simply did not deliver on their promises.
The Scorecard was initially announced via the Humane Society’s blog in March 2019 to make sure that companies were following their timelines and being held accountable for their actions. While some companies delivered on their promises, others still have a long way to go.