Swedish Public Procurement Agency sets criteria for healthier chicken breeds
As a first in Europe, new criteria developed by the Swedish National Agency for Public Procurement includes standards for higher welfare chicken breeds, in line with European Chicken Commitment. Djurens Rätt welcomes the development and its potential to reduce the suffering in chicken factory farms.
Public sector food procurement represents a significant lever to drive improvements for animal welfare standards, sustainability and support for local food producers. Since 2022, Sweden’s Public Procurement Agency has been working to update the criteria for chicken and turkey meat with input from an advisory group, which included Djurens Rätt.
Several of Djurens Rätt’s suggestions were included in the final criteria, such as the opportunity to procure meat from higher welfare chicken breeds, thereby excluding meat from fast-growing chickens. This is in line with the European Chicken Commitment (ECC) or Better Chicken Commitment, a policy that outlines the minimum standards required for chickens to live healthier, happier lives. It includes maximum stocking densities, improved environmental standards and more.
The fast-growing chicken breeds that are used in Swedish factory farms have more health problems and a higher mortality than the slower-growing breeds, as evidenced in investigation footage leaked to Djurens Rätt in 2022 and proved in a vast body of research. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opinion on the welfare of broilers also recommended measures to move away from genetic selection for fast growth rates.
Djurens Rätt is of course very happy that our participation in the advisory group has led to positive outcomes for chickens. Facilitating municipalities and regions to reject the use of fast growing chickens will reduce suffering at large. It is important to simultaneously reduce consumption of chicken meat in order to strengthen the protection of animals in the long term.Camilla Bergvall, President of Djurens Rätt