The burger chain also says it will adopt a comprehensive animal welfare policy by 2024.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated January 23, 2020
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Fast food is tricky business. As the name implies, customers want the food fast—and usually cheap—often leaving other concerns to be swept under the rug. At the same time, fast food brands tend to be large corporations—making them prime targets for advocacy campaigns. It’s why McDonald’s was persuaded to cut antibiotics in its meat. And Burger King is looking to cut plastic toys in kids’ meals. Obviously, costs are a concern, but sometimes, a company simply can’t avoid turning social tides.

Now, Wendy’s is facing the music. Yesterday, the burger chain released its 2019 corporate social responsibility report under the new banner “Good Done Right.” Part of the more high profile release is likely intended to lay to rest protests the brand faced about its tomato sourcing—a cause that was even taken up by some high-profile celebrities like Amy Schumer. “The Company transitioned to 100 percent hydroponic, vine-ripened tomatoes across North American restaurants and tested hydroponic lettuce in Canada,” Wendy’s explained as one of its most specific bullet points. (The “Food” section of the report also features a full-page photo of tomatoes.) Previously, the brand had been criticized for not pledging to source tomatoes only from providers that followed strict labor standards that protected workers.

A Wendy's restaurant in New York City
Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Other parts of the report Wendy’s chose to highlight included “a new commitment to have a comprehensive accounting of animal care best practices, including responsible use of antibiotics and animal housing conditions, by the end of 2024,” “continued menu innovation and a commitment to fresh menu options,” and sustainability improvements. Additionally, the company pointed to its recent recognition as a leader in equality, its commitment to supporting children in foster care, and improvement to employee benefits “by extending domestic partner benefits to Company employees and expanding the Company's Employee Assistance Program to cover all Company employees, including restaurant crew members and their household members.”

"At Wendy's, we believe that doing the right thing is the only way to do business,” Todd Penegor, president and CEO of The Wendy's Company, said in the announcement. “Being a responsible corporate citizen is a priority for our brand, and Good Done Right is our way to communicate how we're advancing various commitments to make a positive impact in the areas of food, people and our environmental footprint.”

The full report is available here for anyone itching to see 21 pages about how awesome Wendy’s is—or one nice photo of tomatoes.