Supermarkets ‘dragging their heels’ on chicken welfare

British supermarkets are “lagging behind” restaurants and overseas retailers in their treatment of chickens, The Humane League has warned.

The animal charity said that only Waitrose and Marks and Spencer had signed up to the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC), a series of welfare standards for farmed chickens.

It mandates that suppliers must provide natural light and space, submit to third-party inspections, and cannot farm fast-growing breeds that often develop health problems.

By contrast, all foodservice and meal kit companies and 50 per cent of major restaurants have pledged to follow the guidelines.

READ MOREAsda ditches chicken trays to save 450 tonnes of plastic

In France, every major supermarket has adopted the BCC, the most recent being Leclerc in September 2020.

Aldi and Lidl have signed up to the BCC in France but have refused to do so across the Channel.

“Historically, supermarkets have often been the first in the industry to implement measures to advance animal welfare,” The Humane League UK managing director Vicky Bond said.

“Now, they are lagging behind, with companies known for value prices like KFC and Greggs leading the way.

“We must hold supermarkets accountable and ensure they all commit to the Better Chicken Commitment.”

A petition by broadcaster Chris Packham to stop top grocers “selling suffering” has attracted over 190,000 signatures.

Retailers “are breeding millions of overgrown FrankenChickens who are unable to stand under their own bodyweight, forcing them to lie in their own waste inside overcrowded sheds,” he wrote.

“The decisions supermarkets make now, will seal the fate of millions of animals.

“We must urgently convince the supermarkets that are dragging their heels to change their ways.”

The news comes after a Morrisons employee claimed the Big 4 grocer tried to silence him when he shared Packham’s campaign over Facebook.

Doug Maw, who works in the Bognor Regis branch, said he was summoned to a meeting and pressured to stop posting.

A Morrisons spokeswoman denied the allegations, telling The Independent that they “encouraged” Maw to “post his views on Morrisons’ general colleague Facebook page.”

The Humane League estimates just five per cent of chickens sold in British supermarkets are reared to BCC standards.

Supermarkets

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