RSPCA make supermarket chicken welfare plea

The RSPCA has written to the major supermarkets asking them to ditch faster-growing breeds of chicken in favour of slower-growing alternatives.

The animal welfare charity said this move is one of the final major hurdles in dramatically improving the lives of chickens bred for meat and has written letters to Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Asda, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and The Co-operative urging them to do so.

The announcement comes as new research carried out by Kantar Worldpanel for RSPCA Freedom Food revealed growth and spend on Freedom Food indoor-reared chicken was “outstripping” ‘standard’, with a £55.2m increase in consumer spending on Freedom Food labelled chicken from £16.4m to £71.6m since March last year.

Dr Marc Cooper, RSPCA senior chicken welfare scientist, said: “It’s great news that people are supporting better chicken welfare by choosing more Freedom Food over standard chicken than ever, and we’ve seen an incredible commitment from supermarkets like Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons to improving the lives of chickens, by offering their customers a higher-welfare option in Freedom Food. But there is still a way to go in our mission to see improvements for the vast majority of chickens reared for meat in this country.”

“That is why we are asking all UK supermarkets to take the next vital step and commit to only using a genetically slower-growing breed for all chicken, in line with the requirement that already exists under the Freedom Food scheme. Science and practical experience clearly demonstrate that this would lead to an even greater improvement in the welfare of many millions of chickens.”

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