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BPC Claims Hugh is Misleading Consumers

by 5m Editor
2 June 2008, at 11:00am

UK - The Chief Executive of the British Poultry Council, Peter Bradnock, has responded to the latest television campaign efforts of celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

The River Cottage TV programmes campaign against what they describe as 'standard' chickens that he believes provide a low standard of welfare, but Mr Bradnock disagrees with the message the programme conveys and has said that it is “It’s time to set the record straight." Adding that Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall is misleading and confusing consumers.

"He is attempting to limit shoppers’ choice by making them feel that Assured British chicken is ethically unacceptable, but the picture that his TV shows have painted is a long way from the reality of life for Assured British chicken.

“The British public is looking for affordable food, particularly in today’s economic climate, but not at the expense of animal welfare. British chicken is produced to a set of rigorous and transparent standards under the Assured Chicken Production (ACP) scheme, which are independently monitored from farm to pack. Because it carries the supermarkets' own labels, ACP chicken meets supermarkets’ high standards of welfare, husbandry, food safety and environmental protection, and can be traced back to the British farm where it was reared by professional farmers.

“Indoor assured flocks have room to roam in clean barns. A nutritionally balanced diet, constant access to fresh water, fresh air ventilation and heating provide a protective indoor environment in which the chickens thrive. Farmers pride themselves on the humane treatment of their flocks and agree that it is in no one's interest for their birds to be unhealthy or mistreated. Good farm hygiene and careful management minimise mortality and incidents of disease, and the rates for ACP chicken are amongst the lowest of any chicken rearing system. The high standards have benefited food safety with the salmonella record from UK indoor flocks the best in Europe.

“Almost four fifths of fresh British chicken is produced under the ACP scheme, which also covers free-range production. Assured free range sales have been growing steadily over the last two years, up 18% in the last 12 months but from a very low base compared with sales of Assured indoor chicken. Free-range chicken sales jumped in the period immediately following Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall's TV shows but, in April, free-range sales fell by 7% compared with the previous month. This suggests that, while these campaigns cause an immediate spike in consumer buying, the effect soon wears off. We expect the previous steady growth to continue.

“Assured British chicken is identified by the Red Tractor mark on food labels. The Red Tractor scheme covers a spectrum from Assured British Chicken through to free-range and organic. The aim is to give consumers a choice of products that fulfil their ethical aspirations, but also suit their budget.”

5m Editor