The Humane League, a nationally recognized animal rights advocacy group, has set its sights on Carl’s Jr. with college campuses stuck in the middle.
In August, the League informed the student and administrative body at Cal State Long Beach along with other Cal State campuses holding a business contract with Carl Karcher Enterprises, Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s parent company, that they were contracting a fast-food chain that sets a low bar for animal welfare.
The accusations laid against Carl’s Jr. breeding for large chickens with short lives, poor living conditions and general lack of welfare.
The League’s Corporate Campaign Coordinator, Brenna Taylor, describes the practices proposed for Carl’s Jr. as basic and slowly becoming the standard for fast-food chains.
“We’re asking for some really specific animal welfare policies that a lot of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. competitors have already adopted,” Taylor said.
As of time of reporting CKE’s public relations department hasn’t offered a comment.
Sophomore and sociology major Isabelle Cruz offers hesitant support of Carl’s Jr. reforming chicken sourcing practices. She sees the need for protection of animal welfare, but also recognizes potential costs.
“I think if it makes enough students uncomfortable and they want to help these chickens, why not? But they should also remember there are consequences like a loss of jobs.” Cruz said.
On the other hand, junior and biochem major Andrew Rim sees winning over Carl’s Jr. as doing very little when it comes to the larger picture.
“I’m pretty sure there’s also other restaurants that abuse chickens anyway. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter if they shut it down or not,” Rim said.
The standards being proposed are the brainchild of The Humane League and several other animal welfare advocacy groups.
This would include transitioning to strains of birds with acceptable welfare outcomes under the Global Animal Partnership, cease the use of broiler cages, a minimum of six pounds per square foot stocking density, provide a bird enriched environment that also meets GAP standards, process birds without prestun handling and institute a single irreversible stun.
The League wants to see these changes implemented by 2024, and audited by a third-party.
They also successfully campaigned other fast-food chains to accept these standards, with Subway marking its success earlier this year.
“Right now we’re focusing on these quick-serve and casual dining restaurants because they have such a huge influence over the food industry,” Taylor said. “There’s definitely a growing shift toward welfare standards and Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. should add their name to this list.”
In an email, Senior Communications Coordinator James Ahumada described Associated Students, Inc.’s relationship with the fast food chain as a, “long positive relationship” with no issues around services or staff while serving students, staff and faculty.
However, Ahumada also describes ASI as sympathetic to the League’s concerns around the treatment of livestock and are trying to better understand what practices Carl’s Jr. requires from poultry production chain. Whether or not ASI will take further action is yet to be determined.
On working with colleges and student organizations, Taylor sees collegiate partiship in animal welfare as a cornerstone for enacting change and generating action from Carl’s Jr.
“Our higher learning institutions have a really unique role in our society where they can provide a platform to speak up on behalf of this issue.” Taylor said.