RSPCA campaign moves chicken into spotlight

07/01/2008 - 00:00
The British Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has launched a new campaign to improve the welfare of chicken bred for meat.

The RSPCA believes that the majority of the 855 million meat chickens reared in the UK every year suffer unacceptable conditions.

Celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall will be presenting programmes about this issue, staring tonight on Channel 4's Food Season.

The new drive includes:

Dr Marc Cooper, RSPCA farm animal scientist, said: "Currently, some supermarkets are selling chicken meat for as little as £2 per kilo – this can be less than it costs to produce the bird. Selling chicken so cheaply doesn't provide farmers with enough money to enable or encourage them to rear their birds to standards the RSPCA finds acceptable."

Cooper continued: "Everyone has a responsibility to ensure chickens are reared to high standards – the retailer, shooper and farmer…We are asking shoopers to demonstrate to supermarkets that there is a demand for higher welfare chicken by signing our petition and by showing they are willing to pay a little bit more for a bird that's had a better life."

Almost 38% of eggs sold in the UK are now from non-caged hens as millions of shoppers protest against cruel battery farming of laying hens. But only 5% of meat chickens reared in the UK for meat are kept in higher welfare conditions.

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