Disgust at cheap chickens

A leading animal welfare charity has hit out at ASDA for selling whole chickens in its stores for a "bargain" price of £2.

The multiple has announced that it will reduce the price of fresh whole chickens in its stores from £4.63 to £2. Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) has criticised the move and called for a consumer boycott of any intensively farmed poultry.

CIWF director of programmes John Callaghan said: "Scientific research shows that many of the intensively reared birds are lame and likely to be in pain and live their lives in their own faeces. Consumers have shown they will vote with their wallets on the basis of animal welfare."

The charity claims that Asda is undermining consumer confidence in better welfare standards by increasing the price gap between high- and low-welfare meat.

Asda said it offers customers the choice of organic, free-range, corn-fed and standard chicken and that the store is footing the bill for the low prices and not passing it on to suppliers.

Emma Broadbent, Asda PR manager, said: "The reality is that while some customers are choosing to trade up to organic or free range, with the credit crunch starting to bite and household bills on the increase, many others cannot afford to make that choice. Our job is to make sure we provide everyone with the best-quality product at the best possible price, and that's exactly what we're doing.

"We've seen a huge increase in the popularity of free-range chicken in the last 12 months and have responded with long-term increases in volume, with a further 50% in free-range chickens, as well as an increase in organic volumes, now available in store.

"We have also introduced a Welfare Choice range of chickens that are reared in spacious barns in line with RSPCA Freedom Foods' required standards on stocking density, and with access to natural light."