It’s no secret that the commercial rearing and processing of food animals and their products can be, and very often is, an appallingly cruel enterprise.
That’s changing, in part because when big customers demand it, industries listen. Royal Caribbean is a very big customer.
Broiler chickens are the latest addition to its growing animal welfare sourcing program, which sets goals for eliminating inhumanely produced food from its supply chain.
“Royal Caribbean supports the continual movement of the food service industry in this direction, and remains committed to keeping the treatment of animals in consideration when supplying its fleet with food,” says Mike Jones, RCL’s Senior Vice President, Supply Chain, Travel, Port Services, and Workplace Solutions
“Broiler” is the designation used in the poultry industry to refer to any chicken raised for its meat.
The Global Animal Partnership, a non-profit founded in 2008 bringing together animal welfare advocates, scientists, farmers and retailers has become an acknowledged leader in guiding and certifying companies working to address various farm animal mistreatments.
According to its website, (GAP) “is making a difference by creating and managing a comprehensive 5-Step Welfare Rating Program for farm animals, where farms and ranches are audited every 15 months by an independent third-party.”
By 2024, in the United States and Canada, RCL will responsibly purchase 100 percent of its chicken from GAP-certified sources. Among RCL’s requirements for sellers, chickens will have to be processed without live-shackling and live-dumping, instead utilizing a pre-shackle, multi-step controlled atmosphere processing system that is widely known as more humane.
“Royal Caribbean shows yet again that doing good is part of doing well,” says Matthew Prescott, senior director of food and agriculture for the Humane Society of the United States. “Our partnership with the company dates back almost a decade, and we welcome this latest move to improve animal welfare.”
The broiler chicken initiative joins existing animal welfare and sustainability efforts by RCL.
By 2020, it aims to source 90 percent of wild-caught seafood from fisheries certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), an international non-profit formed to address unsustainable fishing practices.
RCL has set the same year as its goal for sourcing 75 percent of farmed seafood from operations in North America and Europe certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) for responsible aquaculture production, and for obtaining MSC and ASC chain-of-custody certification for its ships.
Each seafood target includes fisheries and farms that are in the process towards MSC or ASC certification.
And by 2022, RCL is committed to sourcing pork only from producers who do not use gestation crates, as well as sourcing 100 percent of its eggs from cage-free suppliers.