Our Approach

Animal welfare is an issue of critical importance for Restaurant Brands International, our stakeholders, investors, restaurant owners, vendors and guests.

While we are not directly involved in the raising, feeding, handling, transportation or processing of animals; as a major global purchaser of animal proteins and animal products, we acknowledge that we have an opportunity to leverage our influence to promote the just, humane treatment of all animals raised, harvested, and processed for human consumption throughout our supply chain.

Our ongoing commitment is to require strong animal welfare practices throughout our global supply chains to improve animal welfare outcomes. This commitment is guided by the five freedoms of animal welfare, a globally recognized set of standards on animal welfare established by the Farm Animal Welfare Council:

  • Freedom from Hunger and Thirst

  • Freedom from Discomfort

  • Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease

  • Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour

  • Freedom from Fear and Distress

We focus our animal welfare efforts on key animal proteins and products including broiler poultry, laying hens (for egg production), beef cattle and dairy cows, and pigs.

Some of our brands also source and serve seafood, though dwarfed by our land-based proteins. As such, we have prioritized our focus on land-based species; but continue to evaluate our animal welfare approach for seafood.

We recognize the need for continuous improvement with respect to animal welfare and are committed to the ongoing evaluation and adoption of best practices within the industry, our supply chain and others.

Animal Welfare Policies

To further our impact, in 2020 we engaged stakeholders including animal welfare advocates, suppliers, and experts to expand our animal welfare policy documents for each respective land-based species in our supply chain, given the unique breeding, raising, handling, and processing demands of each species.

The policies will detail our species-specific, commitments, expectations, and our approaches to accountability and transparency. That said, all of the policies will be consistent with our overall position and ambition.

Through these policies, RBI will support the use of integrated animal welfare programs to promote practices that address the Five Freedoms by:

  • Improving access to a high-quality diet appropriate to an animal’s life stage and clean drinking water;

  • Ensuring a safe, clean environment and housing appropriate to the animal’s size, stage of life, that promotes well-being and fosters natural behaviors;

  • Mandating timely medical care and treatment;

  • Promoting thorough, comprehensive handler training on compassionate animal handling; and

  • Ensuring humane culling, euthanasia, transport, and slaughter practices

While each policy’s commitments, expectations, and implementation are unique; accountability provisions and our approach to transparency and disclosure will be consistent.

As a next step, policies are being vetted with suppliers to ensure clarity and identify any implementation challenges.

Animal Welfare Auditing

All Burger King, Popeyes, and Tim Hortons beef and poultry raw material vendors supplying for core products, worldwide, are required to submit to mandatory annual third-party audits that include animal welfare standards. Standards for animal welfare in the US and Canada include those from the American Meat Institute and National Chicken Council.

Cage-Free Eggs

Our Global Commitment to Cage-Free Eggs

At Burger King®, Tim Hortons® and Popeyes®, restaurants, we are committed to the simple principle of doing what's right. As one of the largest quick service restaurant companies in the world, it is both our responsibility and opportunity to advance the issue of sustainability in the food service industry.

Our Restaurant Brands for Good plan is our framework for serving guests the food and drinks they love, while contributing to a sustainable future and having a positive social impact in the communities we serve.

Included in this plan is our global commitment to using 100% cage-free eggs. Technically speaking that would include whole eggs, liquid eggs, egg products and egg ingredients.

We rely on farmers and vendors around the world that serve the 100+ countries we operate in to be able to directly and indirectly supply the large volume of eggs that we require and to do so affordably. In countries where no supply exists today, we believe that creating global demand will encourage suppliers to make changes to meet our policy requirements.

We are committed to using 100% cage-free eggs in North America, Western Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand by the end of 2025. These markets represent the vast majority (~92%) of our global egg requirements. In the other regions that represent currently ~8% of our global egg volume, we are committed to using 100% cage-free eggs by 2030 or earlier. The fact remains in these regions, limited or no supply exists today for our brands and in some cases, there is no current path for availability of cage-free eggs for anyone in the industry. Regardless, we are committed to working with suppliers to help them understand our resolve and provide us with cage-free eggs to meet our global commitments.

Our commitment to cage-free eggs distinguishes us as a global leader in three ways. First, our commitment covers all of our restaurants worldwide – including corporately-run and franchisee-operated restaurants. Second, our global commitment includes all forms of egg. Third, our commitment extends to our operations worldwide by 2030, with ~92% of our volume to be converted by the end of 2025.

We will report on our progress in fulfilling this commitment annually within our Restaurant Brands for Good reporting framework.

Broiler Chicken Welfare

To increase the welfare of broiler chickens, wide-scale change will take time and must be undertaken in a thoughtful manner using best practices supported by science and rigorous research. The Global Animal Partnership (GAP) standards offers solutions in the areas of breed, stocking density and environment, and we will work with our suppliers, animal welfare experts and others in the industry to align on these solutions.

By 2024, in the US and Canada, Burger King, Popeyes, and Tim Hortons will target the following:

  • Transition to using breeds determined to have better welfare outcomes
  • Provide more space by reducing maximum stocking density, per GAP Standards
  • Enhance living environments including litter quality, lighting and enrichments, per GAP Standards
  • Utilize a multi-step controlled-atmosphere stunning system

Sow Housing

Appropriate housing for pigs, particularly pregnant sows, represents a key aspect of animal welfare in the pork industry. Restaurant Brands International is committed to working with suppliers, researchers and the pork industry to improve the welfare of sows by transitioning to more humane forms of housing.

Looking forward, Restaurant Brands International is committed to sourcing pork globally only from approved suppliers that do not use gestation crates. We aim to accomplish this goal in US and Canada by 2022 and in Latin America by 2025.

Antibiotics

In many parts of the world the cultivation of animal proteins for human consumption increasingly relies on the routine use of antibiotics in the rearing, feeding, and daily care of livestock. This and other modern animal husbandry practices drive increasing antibiotic use and contributes to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is particularly concerning when resistance occurs with antibiotics that are important to human medicine. As a major global buyer of animal proteins, RBI has a responsibility to ensure that its business practices to not contribute to or exacerbate the problem of antibiotic resistance.

RBI acknowledges that we have an important role to play in preventing disease resistance and in preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics. We also recognize that antibiotics are required to treat disease to maintain animal health and welfare, thus in keeping with responsible animal welfare practices, antibiotics use must never be withheld if it will jeopardize an animal’s wellbeing.

We continue to collaborate with suppliers and academics, as well as closely monitor the guidance of external experts such as the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, with respect to the matter of antibiotic resistance.

We expect our approved suppliers to purchase products only from farmers that administer antibiotics in a judicious and responsible manner when treatment is necessary, in keeping with veterinary and regulatory requirements. Treatment of animals with antibiotics must be in full compliance with all applicable requirements and under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Antibiotics may not be used for growth-promotion purposes (i.e., feed efficiency, weight gain, etc.) and any unused antibiotics must be disposed of properly.

Tim Hortons in Canada and Burger King in the US only source chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine*. As applicable, approved suppliers must provide and maintain, on record, an annual letter of guarantee from each of their raw material suppliers as supporting documentation for monitoring of compliance.

The Popeyes brand is working towards eliminating antibiotics important to human medicine* from their chicken supply chain for the US market by end of 2021.

In 2020 we engaged industry experts and suppliers to expand our policy related to antibiotics use in beef cattle and dairy cows. Our next step is to develop a strategy and timeline for implementation. By expanding this policy, our goal is to measure and understand the current use of antibiotics in the beef supply chain of each brand, and implement targets to reduce the use of antibiotics important to human medicine* in our supply chain and to end animal care practises that lead to their overuse.

We will work closely with our supply chain vendors and franchisees to implement these changes and continue to identify opportunities to monitor and limit the use of medically important antibiotics in our other land-based proteins. All our approved protein suppliers are currently required by applicable law to adhere to legislated antibiotic withdrawal times. These practices ensure that all antibiotics have cleared each animal’s system before it enters the food supply.

*As defined by the World Health Organization in Critically Important Antimicrobials for Human Medicine 6th Revision 2018.

Learn more about other sustainable sourcing in our supply chain: