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KFC first UK fast food chain to promise better chicken welfare standards

KFC bucket Image copyright Getty Images

Kentucky Fried Chicken is the first fast food chain in the UK to commit to better chicken welfare standards.

The idea is to work with suppliers to make sure there are minimum standards across the industry by 2026.

It means the birds will have more space, natural light and can perch and flap their wings.

The measures are an attempt to improve conditions in the large-scale production of meat.

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It is thought the move will put pressure on other outlets like McDonald's and Burger King to do the same.

Supermarkets and restaurants have all been urged to commit to the European Chicken Commitment, which has been signed by animal rights groups including the RSPCA.

"Signing up to the European Chicken Commitment isn't just a box-ticking exercise for us, we're doing this because we truly believe it's the right thing to do, says Paula MacKenzie, General Manager of KFC UK and Ireland.

"Chicken is our business and we have a responsibility as the chicken brand, to make sure we're pushing improvement to chicken welfare standards across our supply chain.

"Our customers care about improving the lives of the chicken we buy."

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However, the chicken bought by KFC only represents around 4% of the UK chicken market. It's hoped other take-away outlets will follow suit.

Although McDonald's has not signed the European Chicken Commitment, the company has told Newsbeat they are doing other things to improve chicken welfare.

"In October 2017, we announced eight commitments to measurably improve chicken health and welfare outcomes across our global supply chain by 2024."

They include improving lighting and the areas where the chickens are kept.

KFC had been criticised in 2016 for using poultry that has been treated with antibiotics. This new move has been met with praise from animal welfare charities.

"This commitment will benefit the lives of millions of chickens every year throughout their supply chain," says Vicky Bond, Managing Director of The Humane League UK.

"We implore the rest of this sector and other food companies to follow in their footsteps."

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