Supermarket drive for ‘cheap meat’ saw 61m chickens die before slaughter last year

Around 61 million chickens died before slaughter last year as a result of major welfare issues such as infection and heart attacks, as supermarkets such as Morrisons and Co-op continue to source ‘cheap meat’.

The animal welfare charity Open Cages has singled out supermarkets like Morrisons and Co-op for continuing to source its meat from genetically engineered ‘Frankenchickens’, while M&S and Waitrose have moved towards the Better Chicken Commitment.

DEFRA – the government department for environment, food and rural affairs – has also supported the claim that 61 million chickens died before reaching the slaughterhouse with around 1.2 million chickens dying every single week.

Estimation reveal that nearly 5 million chicken died from heart attacks, 15 million may have had their necks broken by famers due to severe lameness and 24 million may have died from infection.

READ MORE: Sainsbury’s guarantees improved chicken welfare standards by March 2023

According to the charity, nearly 1.2 billion chickens were killed last year to meet demand, with most meat coming from ultra fast-growing ‘Frankenchickens’.

“The scale of suffering behind cheap chicken may be shocking to consumers, but to our major supermarkets it’s business as usual,” Open Cages CEO and co-founder Connor Jackson said.

“They know full well that 1 in 3 Frankenchickens can barely walk, that millions die of heart attack, and that millions more die of horrendous diseases.

“And still, not only do even the self proclaimed ‘high welfare’ and ‘ethical’ retailers like Morrisons and Co-op continue to sell Frankenchickens, to package their meat as ‘welfare assured’, and to tell us Brits that they care deeply about animal welfare… They do all this knowing that alternatives are available.”

Additionally, Open Cages have argued that supermarkets have manipulated shoppers by using deceptive labels and marketing campaigns to give the impression their chickens are well looked after.

Another recent report also criticised supermarkets for promoting and offering deal based on “unsustainable” meat from intensive farms.

Currently, M&S and Waitrose are the only UK supermarkets to pledge to the Better Chicken Commitment alongside 300 companies across the UK and Europe.

Jacksdon added: “Hundreds of companies like M&S, Waitrose and even KFC have signed the Better Chicken Commitment, taking the lead in improving animal welfare.”

“Instead of following, supermarkets like Morrisons ignore and bury the issue behind feel good marketing campaigns and PR spin. But these findings prove once and for all that it is all just a story to keep us coming back to the checkout: animals pay the ultimate price for cheap chicken.”

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