Supermarkets ‘trick customers into buying chickens that suffered in industrial farming’

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Supermarkets ‘trick customers into buying chickens that suffered in industrial farming’

9 February 2019
News
Supermarkets are luring shoppers into buying chicken reared in “grim” factory farms with a string of tactics including making out that the birds were free-range, the RSPCA claims.

The animal-welfare charity claims that the big retailers are still failing on chicken welfare a decade on from campaigns by celebrity chefs Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver to improve standards.

Research from the RSPCA says the most popular supermarkets encourage consumers to buy chickens that have suffered in industrial-style systems, with strategies such as:

  • Some intensively reared chicken was labelled “higher standards”
  • Some had photos giving the misleading impression the bird was reared outdoors
  • Putting higher welfare chicken in less prominent shelf positions
  • Special offers on only factory-farmed chicken – found in all supermarkets except Waitrose
  • “Excessive” price differences of up to £3.40 a kg between intensively reared and free-range 

Asda and Aldi had own-brand packs marked “higher welfare standards”, and Lidl featured a golden stamp saying “higher welfare”, the researchers claimed.

And while Sainsbury’s offered more choice of higher welfare cuts, some smaller local stores apparently had no higher welfare options at all. 

Shoppers spend five times more – £1.5bn – on intensively reared chicken, mostly unknowingly, than on birds raised in higher standards, including RSPCA Assured, organic and free-range, the report said.