January 18, 2008: Supermarkets have reacted to TV programmes about chicken welfare by announcing newrules and regulations to reassure consumers of their commitment to thehighest standards.
Clebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and HughFearnley-Whittingstall have both launched campaigns exposing thetreatment of birds destined for supermarket shelves.Sainsbury’s has announced that it intends to phase out standard chickenand replace it with birds reared under the RSPCA’s Freedom Food rulesby 2010.
Morrisons has also announced its intention to expand itscurrent range of Freedom Food poultry and Marks & Spencer andWaitrose have already pioneered better welfare conditions for theirchickens. Many producers are keen to improve conditions but are gettingthemselves into a flap, saying they must have higher prices for theirpoultry. It reportedly costs around £60,000 to convert a 100,000 bird unit toFreedom Food standards. Charles Bourns, chairman of the NFU poultryboard, said: “Because of the high feed prices we are not even making 3pa chicken at the moment and a lot of farmers are losing money.”