The drive-in restaurant chain Sonic will soon require all of its suppliers to conduct independent audits of their livestock- and poultry-handling practices.
The company wants suppliers to focus on employee training in humane animal-handling practices and ongoing process verification. Any supplier that repeatedly fails to meet Sonic’s animal-welfare guidelines will be excluded from its supply chain.
Beginning this month, Sonic will require all suppliers to undergo third-party, animal-welfare audits. Audits will be conducted by a recognized auditing firm, and Sonic will review the audits annually.
“Sonic strongly supports and believes it’s our obligation to ensure that each of our suppliers meets or exceeds established government regulations and recognized industry guidelines for the humane treatment and handling of farm production animals,” according to Sonic’s statement.
Specifically, Sonic wants poultry suppliers to convert to a controlled-atmosphere killing system. It will favor suppliers that raise hogs in a gestation-crate-free environment. Egg suppliers will be required to meet United Egg Producer housing standards and other practices. Withholding food or water to facilitate molting or improperly managed beak trimming were other unacceptable practices cited.
Sonic is one of several foodservice companiesof hich the Humane Society of the United States purchased shares in to persuade the companies to set similar policies. Last month, HSUS announced it had purchased shares of Steak ‘n Shake and Jack in the Box restaurants. HSUS charged both companies with a “complete lack of meaningful movement on animal welfare.”
Restaurant chains such as Burger King, Wendy’s, Quiznos, Denny’s, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. have already created policies more in line with HSUS’ expectations.