The Wendy's Co., Dublin, Ohio, announced what is said to be an industry-leading step that will allow the company to better understand and communicate how cattle for Wendy's fresh beef hamburgers are raised, facilitating advancements in animal care, antibiotics and sustainability.

Wendy's is dubbed as the first restaurant chain to partner with the Progressive Beef program, an innovative animal care and sustainability program built on best practices and third-party verification. Adoption of this program will be implemented in a significant part of its beef supply starting in 2019, with at least 50% by 2021. Efforts in these areas are verified by USDA-approved auditors.

The program focuses on three core areas:

  • Cattle care, providing a safe, humane environment for cattle through staff training on management practices and hands-on veterinary care.
  • Food safety and antibiotic use, responsibly using antibiotics under the supervision of a veterinarian and with thorough record-keeping, strictly adhering to withdrawal times, utilizing HACCP principles and ensuring a clean and safe environment for the animals.
  • Environmental sustainability, responsibly utilizing natural resources while investing in the people who care for the cattle and the local communities through staff training and certification.

Wendy's also made progress on existing commitments related to its beef supply chain. In 2018, Wendy's fulfilled its commitment to source 100% of its beef from Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certified sources, hitting this milestone a year ahead of schedule. Wendy's also sourced nearly 20% of its beef from producers who have each tracked and reduced their use of medically important antibiotics.

Wendy's also regularly consults with outside experts from academia, animal agriculture and veterinary medicine to support animal care and welfare decisions, and this year, expanded the council to include more external professionals.

As part of its ongoing commitment to sourcing fresh, high-quality produce, Wendy's also announced an initiative to source vine-ripened tomatoes for its North American restaurants exclusively from greenhouse farms by early 2019. Most of these tomatoes will be sourced from the United States and Canada. This move further strengthens the company’s commitment to responsible sourcing practices by providing safe, indoor working conditions, shelter from the elements and environmental contaminants, reduced water and land use burdens and a significantly reduced need for chemical pesticides. This move is said to be the first-of-its-kind sourcing strategy for a U.S.-based, quick-service restaurant of Wendy's scale.