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Humane league UK gives Subway UK & Ireland "Corporate Cruelty Award"

Animal protection charity The Humane League UK has handed Subway UK & Ireland a not-so-coveted Corporate Cruelty Award, after the fast-food giant alledgedly failed to commit to improved welfare standards.

23 January 2020, at 3:09pm

Campaigners visited the company’s UK Head Office in Shelford, near Cambridge, today to personally deliver the trophy. A representative from the company took the award and asked the campaigners to email their PR agency, Good Relations.

Cordelia Britton, Senior Campaigner at The Humane League UK, said: “With these awards, we’re highlighting the urgent need for change to alleviate the immense suffering of chickens reared for meat in the UK and globally. Members of the public voted and have put Subway in the lead, showing that they expect more from the company. Subway’s lack of action proves that chicken welfare is simply not a high priority for them, and we’re really disappointed to have to name them the winner of the Corporate Cruelty Award today.”

The Better Chicken Commitment (BCC) is a set of standards designed to drastically improve the welfare of chickens raised for meat, containing six key measures addressing the major issues encountered in standard intensive chicken production.

Most of the one billion chickens raised and killed in the UK per year are bred to grow so fast they often become crippled under their own weight, and suffer from painful leg conditions which can render them immobilised, said the Humane League UK. The BCC measures include prohibiting the use of fast-growing breeds, reducing overcrowding, and adding environmental enrichment to provide better living conditions.

Subway was originally nominated for the Corporate Cruelty Award in October 2019, alongside several other companies in the restaurant industry. Of all nominees, only TGI Fridays and Subway have failed to sign up to the BCC. YO! Sushi was also in the running for an award, but committed to the BCC last week.

In the US, Subway committed to higher welfare chicken in 2017, but is failing to protect the welfare of chickens in its UK and EU supply chains. As a result, Subway is currently subject to a Europe-wide campaign by the Open Wing Alliance, a coalition of animal protection groups, calling for its adoption of the higher welfare criteria of the BCC. In the UK, Open Cages and Animal Equality are participating in the campaign, alongside The Humane League UK, carrying out protests and actions across the country.

A Subway spokesperson has commented that "Subway takes animal welfare seriously by working closely with our suppliers to ensure that animals are treated well in accordance with Subway's global Animal Welfare Policy. Today, all chicken suppliers and their producers must, as a minimum, comply with EU animal welfare legislation and globally we support the principles of the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) Five Freedoms, which is a framework to safeguard and continually improve animal welfare. We are currently working actively to understand the implications of the European Chicken Commitment, and how this would affect the quality and price of chicken that we are able to offer our guests. When we have clear conclusions, we will share them and take appropriate action."