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Retail Giant Costco Takes First Steps to Reform Chicken Welfare

Costco, the world’s third-largest retailer, has announced an updated policy to improve welfare for chickens raised and slaughtered in its supply chain. While Costco’s first steps are modest and fall short of some competitors’ standards, they will reduce suffering for more than 100 million birds.

The announcement comes seven months after New York Times columnist Nick Kristof broke the news of a Mercy For Animals investigation into a Costco supplier. Our hidden-camera footage reveals chickens bred to grow so large so fast they can’t support their weight and countless birds suffering from open wounds and broken bones.

Tens of thousands of caring people like you called on Costco to ban the worst cruelty in its chicken supply chain.

Dedicated Mercy For Animals volunteers took to the streets for powerful on-the-ground actions. We reached Costco customers directly with mobile billboards and street projections. And Mercy For Animals supporters chipped in to erect a massive billboard in Times Square.

Woody Harrelson joined in, his star power drawing even more attention to the shocking reality behind Costco’s cheap chicken.

Thanks to the support and persistence of advocates like you, we’re seeing the first signs of progress.

Costco is the only major retailer to set up its own vertically integrated chicken supply. This updated policy is an initial step toward improved welfare for more than 100 million birds. The policy may result in more space for each bird, and it includes trialing enrichments and exploring alternatives to live-shackle slaughter for more of Costco’s supply chain. The more live-shackling that is eliminated, the fewer birds risk being scalded alive.

Leah Garcés, president of Mercy For Animals, shared:

This decision by Costco is an important first step in the right direction for the millions of chickens in the company’s supply chain. Time will tell what it means for the animals. We will keep urging Costco toward continual improvement and full adoption of the Better Chicken Commitment.

This updated policy comes just weeks after several other mainstream retailers adopted even stronger chicken welfare standards. Sprouts, Natural Grocers, and Giant Eagle have joined Whole Foods in fully adopting the Better Chicken Commitment, the leading set of higher-welfare standards for chickens, which more than 200 North American companies have adopted. Mercy For Animals will continue to monitor Costco’s progress. Additionally, we will soon release a scorecard ranking retailers on their progress in addressing cruelty to chickens.

Click here to ask major retailers how they’re reducing suffering for chickens.

You can help make the world a kinder place for animals by adding more plant-based foods to your routine. Download our free veg starter guide to learn how.