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Chicken farmers disappointed by RSPCA's confused campaign

by 5m Editor
7 May 2004, at 12:00am

UK - British chicken producers are extremely disappointed by the RSPCA campaign launched today. “The RSPCA has come out with a jumble of points that will seriously mislead and confuse consumers,” said Peter Bradnock, Chief Executive of the British Poultry Council.

Chicken farmers disappointed by RSPCA's confused campaign - UK - British chicken producers are extremely disappointed by the RSPCA campaign launched today. “The RSPCA has come out with a jumble of points that will seriously mislead and confuse consumers,” said Peter Bradnock, Chief Executive of the British Poultry Council.

“The fact is that most chicken in the UK are reared according to the stringent health, welfare and food safety standards of the Assured Chicken Production Scheme and chicken farms are independently audited against these standards. The RSPCA is wrong to simply dismiss all the protection and controls behind these high standards.”

The BPC says that points raised by the RSPCA in criticising UK chicken farming in favour of its own Freedom Foods brand are wrong and are highly misleading. The reference to “100,000 broilers die prematurely each day” is in reality a mortality rate of 4% which is lower than that for free range chicken and less than half that for organic chicken.

RSPCA’s comparison of growth rates of meat chicken breeds, with quite different breeds of egg-laying hens is meaningless. Egg-laying hens are kept for around 60 weeks, whereas indoor meat chickens are grown for around six weeks, or under the Freedom Foods scheme for seven weeks, just one week more. Similarly, it is patently misleading to compare the ability of a meat chicken to roam freely around the whole house from tiny day-old chick to six or seven weeks of age, with a layer-hen in a battery cage.

“Consumers must be properly informed to be able to choose food that meets all their needs and expectations. The Assured Chicken Production scheme most comprehensively achieves this for chicken meat and is recognised by the Red Tractor mark. Shoppers can rely on the Red Tractor on British chicken” says the BPC.

“Unfortunately the RSPCA campaign, in seeking to discredit good farming practice in order to promote a particular approach including its own Freedom Foods brand, will itself be misleading shoppers and the public.”

Source: British Poultry Council - 5th May 2004

5m Editor