Wendy’s Policy and Practice
At Wendy’s, we understand how powerful words can be. We were founded on the words "Quality is our Recipe.” And for nearly 50 years, we have worked hard every day to meet that standard. To live up to those words, we’ve studied every aspect of how our food makes it to your plate – from ensuring the proper treatment animals receive on the farm to the care that goes into freshly preparing your food at our restaurants. We believe each step plays a major role in our ability to serve up high-quality, safe food that satisfies.
When it comes to animal health and wellbeing, we have taken an intentional and detailed approach from the start – from being one of the first restaurant chains to establish animal care principles and requirements to auditing our suppliers against the daily needs of the animals and working with industry leaders to regularly review and improve our policies.
This intentional approach still guides us today, and is the driving force behind the components of our welfare and sourcing program.
A Shared Vision on Animal Care
One major way we live out our values is through our supply chain and developing partnerships with suppliers who are driven by the same values we are; suppliers who believe that providing for the daily needs of the animals is the responsibility of all of us.
- A balanced diet, designed by animal nutritionists, to support animal health and natural growth
- An environment where animals are comfortable and well cared for
- A safe environment to prevent injury or disease and swift treatment to minimize or mitigate pain experienced by an animal
- Space and opportunities for animals to interact with their environment and each other
- Protection for animals from abuse, neglect or mistreatment, and ensuring buildings and processes support animals’ natural instincts
Wendy’s Approach to Animal Care and Welfare
To serve our customers the best food, we start with the best ingredients which come from suppliers who share in our vision of safe, wholesome and consistent food. As part of this standard, only source chicken, beef and pork from animals raised for high-quality meat from suppliers who meet or exceed our standards for animal care, quality, and food safety. For us, this means making investments like:
- Market hogs raised for sausage and bacon; not sows (or mother pigs) raised for breeding
- Cattle raised specifically for high quality beef grades such as Prime or Choice
- Broiler chickens that adhere to our smaller-bird size requirement as part of our commitment to quality and animal wellbeing
As a company founded on having a fresh supply of beef, knowing the ins and outs of how our beef makes its way to our restaurants is vital to ensuring a safe and satisfying meal for our customers. We are proud of our fresh beef supply chain, but we still want to know more about how the animals raised for our food were cared for, so we can verify treatment, identify improvement areas and ensure the highest safety and food quality standards are met.
Specifically, while our supply chain goes all the way back to the hatchery for chicken, giving us full knowledge of our chicken supply chain and the ability to set standards and verify all animals are reared to those standards, more work needs to be done on pork and beef to get all the way back to the farm. This work is worth the effort, and we will keep you updated on our progress.
How Wendy’s Backs Up Its Animal Welfare Program
Our intentional approach to welfare is one thing, but we also need the teeth to back it up. This is what we do to ensure our animal welfare policies carry through:
Internal & External Auditing
Internal Wendy’s auditors visit every supplier, every year, to see for themselves how things are done and then to bring this knowledge back to Wendy’s restaurant support center. It is possible to fail our audits – we have disapproved suppliers across all our proteins. While we believe internal auditing is crucial, we also enlist independent/third-party auditors to validate what we do along with our suppliers so that extra layer is built in. Through this process, our customers can feel assured that Wendy’s delivers the safest food possible and that all our suppliers uphold our commitments to food safety and animal welfare. Learn more.
Long-Standing Animal Welfare Council
Since 2001, we have had an Animal Welfare Council in place to shape our policies and help drive us forward. The Council has recently been enhanced to bring more outside experts to the table to sit alongside Wendy’s leadership. We also consult with public interest groups to ensure we benefit from a range of perspectives and push to continuously meet customer expectations.
Read on to learn more about our specific commitments, which we revisit regularly with our Animal Welfare Council. And, learn more about the Council, here.
Wendy’s Animal Welfare Priorities and Initiatives
Wendy’s has a long-standing commitment to animal welfare (and you can learn more about our commitment over the years here!). We believe that responsible animal care guided by a veterinarian is essential to producing high quality, safe food, while also enhancing consumers’ trust and confidence in the food we all share. We also believe that sick animals deserve to be treated and that antibiotics should only be used to treat illness. Read our policy.
Carefully formulated nutritional feed, access to clean water, adequate room to grow, professional veterinary care, and proper handling are all important considerations in our broiler chicken supplier selection process and our ongoing auditing program. To this end, we continue to explore with our suppliers the potential benefits of enhanced housing opportunities and stunning methods.
Egg-Laying Hen Welfare
Wendy’s intentional approach to animal health and well-being carries over to how we source eggs, including the journey we’ve taken to source the fresh-cracked eggs that star on our U.S. breakfast menu.
In 2016, a few hundred Wendy’s restaurants in the U.S. and a handful in Canada served breakfast, which was an optional menu offering for our operators. At that time, we made a commitment to source 100 percent of our eggs for those breakfast locations from a cage-free environment by 2020.
And as of year-end 2020, we have met that commitment. Today, we source a volume of eggs from cage-free environments that is sufficient to supply those original breakfast restaurants. However, since 2016, the total egg volumes for the Wendy’s system have increased substantially because we launched breakfast across the U.S. restaurant system in 2020. Approximately 5,800 U.S. restaurants now serve breakfast.
Since launching breakfast nationally, we have been working closely with the egg industry to source more eggs from a host of suppliers who uphold strong animal welfare practices and are third-party certified, earning various certifications including American Humane Certified®, Certified Humane Raised and Handled® and United Egg Producers (UEP) Certified. Further, all our egg suppliers are required to have independent, third-party audits conducted annually by PAACO-certified auditors. Before a supplier can be approved for the Wendy’s system, they must undergo and pass a Wendy’s Animal Welfare audit as well as a third-party audit.
Alongside the egg industry, our suppliers and our Animal Welfare Council, we are also exploring the latest research, best practices and systems for housing egg-laying hens today. As part of this process, we have evaluated the risks and opportunities that exist in various egg-laying housing systems, including conventional, cage-free and other systems, like enriched colony. As we make decisions about how best to source eggs for the Wendy’s system, we are seeking housing systems that provide the best conditions for animal welfare, worker safety, food safety, egg quality and the environment. We also consider the availability of a high quality, reliable egg supply and price volatility as we do with all of our ingredient sourcing.
We are also closely connected to our consumers’ expectations about eggs and know that using only Grade A, fresh-cracked eggs is one of the most important and compelling attributes for consumers. Looking ahead, we expect our sourcing of eggs from cage-free systems to steadily increase over time – today cage-free eggs represent more than 5% of our total U.S. egg supply. We are also interested in purchasing eggs from other animal welfare-enhanced systems. We believe our egg sourcing strategy and continued focus on animal welfare and other relevant factors reflects continued learnings and developments and appropriately balances both the risks and opportunities of a high quality, fresh egg supply. We will continue to provide updates on our progress and continued learnings.
Since 2007, Wendy’s has given preferential buying to those suppliers who adopt an ongoing plan to phase out single sow gestation stalls.
We meet regularly with pork industry representatives and outside experts to continue work toward our stated goal of sourcing only from gestation stall-free pork suppliers. As a part of this commitment, we require every raw material and finished product supplier to submit quarterly progress reports that reflect the percentage of stall-free pork supplied to Wendy’s.
Additionally, as a result of recent advancements made by two suppliers who currently make up the majority of our raw materials (pork) business, we are confident we will continue to make progress toward our goal of eliminating the use of sow gestation stalls in our supply chain by the end of 2022. We maintain our commitment to achieving gestation stall-free sourcing, and welcome the ongoing and expanded cooperation from our suppliers. We’re also proud to serve pork that is 100% Pork Quality Assurance® Plus Certified.
Wendy’s is proud to serve fresh beef in North American restaurants (excluding Hawaii), which represent 95% of our total operational footprint.
In 2016, Wendy’s joined the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef® (USRSB) which has a mission to advance, support and communicate continuous improvement in beef sustainability through leadership, innovation, multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration. The USRSB brings all areas of the supply chain to the table, beginning with the work the farmers and ranchers can do to make more positive impacts in their fields all the way to how the retail sector can affect and enforce sustainable practices. We’re also proud to serve beef in the U.S. that is 100% Beef Quality Assurance Certified.
Animal Care Standards Program
Ensuring the welfare of the animals we rely on to provide our food is an important aspect of our industry-leading animal welfare program, and we’ve started work to further strengthen it by implementing the Animal Care Standards Program (ACSP) across our protein supply. ACSP is a detailed assessment tool that will allow us to recognize progressive suppliers and to help us better trace conditions, quantify our best practices and inform development of new ones. We began implementing the ACSP with our protein suppliers in 2020, piloting the framework with suppliers and validating the metrics we will use to measure welfare expectations and best practices. By the end of 2024, Wendy’s expects to have a comprehensive accounting of animal welfare best practices within our entire supply chain across beef, pork, chicken, eggs and dairy. More information on the ACSP can be found here.
Learn More on The Square Deal Blog
The Square Deal: Investing in Quality and Making Progress on Animal Antibiotics
We’ve made progress related to the antibiotics administered to chickens, cattle and pigs. Check out our blog to read our thoughts on the matter. Read the blog.
The Square Deal: What’s humane when it comes to Animal Welfare?
So what’s “humane” when it comes to the treatment of animals that we rely on to provide our food? Click below to read the blog we wrote on the topic. Read the blog.