Appeal to commit to Better Chicken campaign
The animal welfare charity is calling on Lincolnshire residents to lobby their supermarket to encourage them to sign-up to the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC), which is a set of requirements for improving broiler welfare driving the food industry towards higher welfare practices.
Emily Harris, campaigns manager at the RSPCA, said: “Last week’s ruling shows there is a real disconnect between what the legal system and lawmakers think is acceptable compared to what the public thinks is acceptable when it comes to animal welfare.
“We know that 87 percent of the public expect supermarkets to ensure that all chicken meat they sell is farmed to higher welfare standards - even higher than the 86 percent of people who agreed with this back in 2018, showing that this is an issue the public has consistently cared about for many years.”
A recent poll by the RSPCA has found that 79 percent of adults think animal welfare is important when deciding which meat products to buy, and two out of three people sometimes or always check packaging on chicken products to see if it is higher welfare.
The survey also found that seven out of ten adults say that a supermarket offering higher welfare chicken would have an impact on where they choose to shop.
Last week, 96% of the 32,000 Co-op members voted for the shop to adopt the Better Chicken Commitment, but the retailers’ directors overruled this vote. Aldi, Asda, Iceland, Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Tesco are also yet to make the commitment. However, M&S and Waitrose have made the pledge.
The key requirements of the BCC are:
- Indoor reared birds, without outdoor access, need to be given more room in order to have the chance to peck, scratch, dust bathe and rest without being disturbed
- Indoor reared birds have natural light provided, which means they won't spend their whole lives in dim, artificially lit conditions
- Provision of enrichment items, things that the birds can explore and peck at, as well as perches so birds can roost
- No cages or multi-tier systems
- More humane methods of slaughter - eliminating the shackling and inversion of conscious birds.
- The use of only slower-growing breed of chickens and not chickens which have been genetically selected to grow so fast they develop serious health issues
The campaign also aims to show the public how their purchasing decisions can make a difference to animal welfare.
Emily added: “The RSPCA and our colleagues at RSPCA Assured work closely with retailers and so we wanted to create a helpful guide to make it as easy as possible for them to sign-up to the Better Chicken Commitment and improve animal welfare on a massive scale, meeting the desires of their customers.“But we cannot do that without the people of Lincolnshire’s support so we’re urging everyone to harness your purchasing power and tell supermarkets directly that we want to see higher welfare chicken on supermarket shelves. Over one billion chickens are slaughtered for meat in the UK every year so improving the lives of chickens will have a huge impact on farm animal welfare in one single stroke.”
To support the Better Chicken campaign and lobby your supermarket, visit www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaign/betterchicken