MILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Following a nationwide campaign led by high school senior Lia Hyman in partnership with The Humane League, on Friday Subway produced a set of animal welfare policies addressing the worst abuses in its U.S. chicken supply chain.
The new policies commit to sourcing 100% of Subway’s chickens using standards aligned with the requirements of the Global Animal Partnership (GAP), most notably addressing the cruel practice of manipulating genetics in its supply chain to produce unnaturally fast-growing chickens. By 2024, all of Subway’s chicken products will be aligned with GAP standards for higher welfare breeds, living environments (including lighting, litter and enrichment), activity levels and optimized stocking density based on scientific research, antibiotic usage and processed using multi-step controlled atmospheric stunning.
The commitment comes after the nationwide campaign confronted Subway at its franchise global headquarters on Thursday, April 20. Hyman attempted to deliver the signatures of more than 50,000 supporters of the ‘Subway Secrets’ campaign, but was denied entry to the headquarters, then led a protest in coordination with The Humane League. In addition to the demonstration, a billboard was launched on the main highway by Subway’s headquarters directing the general public to the campaign website. Hundreds of consumers and students also spoke out against Subway on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, asking the restaurant to address the violent abuse taking place in its supply chain.
Hyman is a senior at Cheltenham High School in Philadelphia, where she was recently awarded Activist of the Year by The Humane League’s Philadelphia office. She is active in Key Club, Best Buddies, Environmental Club, Women Student Union, and runs Track & Cross Country. She became the face of the ‘Subway Secrets’ campaign out of concern for the millions of chickens suffering the worst cruelties in the chain’s supply chain each year. Hyman led the charge for the campaign in securing more than 50,000 signatures with her boycotting of Subway, a restaurant she used to frequent. Her leadership inspired countless students to perform campaign actions on their own campuses nationwide.
“Chicken welfare issues need to be addressed, and I am passionate about improving conditions in factory farming. With over 50,000 petition signatures, I know that this issue is not only important to me, but to many others. Changes start when you ask for them,” Hyman said. “Subway’s policy has the ability to influence every other food company in the country.”
Today’s announcement will affect all chicken menu items at Subway’s 27,000 locations across the United States. The policy focuses on improving conditions of chickens raised for meat in the restaurant’s supply chain per Global Animal Partnership’s (GAP) standards. This welfare policy (detailed in this guide) will dramatically reduce suffering throughout these chickens’ entire life cycles. The new set of policies addressed in this campaign represent the only protections afforded to these chickens in the United States; there are presently no federal laws to protect these animals.
“As one of the largest chain restaurants in the world, Subway’s chicken welfare policy will reduce the suffering of millions of chicken in the United States each year,” said David Coman-Hidy, executive director of The Humane League. “We are proud to have partnered with Lia on this important campaign. Her demonstration, petition, and additional campaign actions brought attention to this important issue and directly contributed to Subway’s commitment today.”
This commitment is in part a result of The Humane League’s 88% Campaign, which has already secured commitments from the world’s largest restaurant chains and food service providers. Major competitors of Subway, including Quiznos, Chipotle, Shake Shack, and Starbucks, in addition to the five largest food service companies in the U.S., previously released policies that address the worst cruelties in chicken factory farming.