Chicken Farmers React against Celebrity Chef Show24 July 2008
AUSTRALIA - Farmers are crying 'foul' over a new documentary showing TV chef Jamie Oliver slaughtering poultry.
Jamie Oliver and fellow high-profile British chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall created the show, 'Jamie's Fowl Dinners', to draw attention to the plight of mass-produced chickens destined for dinner tables, reports .
Sales of factory-farmed chickens plummeted after Mr Oliver's documentary was shown in the UK, say animal protection organisations.
"No meat chicken is ever raised in a cage"
Andreas Dubs, Australian Chicken Meat Federation executive director
Hours before the show screened on Network Ten on 23 July, the Australian chicken meat industry said it was not relevant to Australia because chickens here are not raised in cages for meat.
"It is by no means true that what is clearly a show that is focused on the UK industry can easily and directly be applied to the Australian scene," Australian Chicken Meat Federation executive director Andreas Dubs said in a statement.
"All meat chickens are farmed and processed in accordance with Australian animal welfare codes of practice developed jointly by governments, animal welfare organisations and the chicken meat industry."
He said all farming methods used to raise chickens for meat in Australia respected the animal welfare codes of practice.
"No meat chicken is ever raised in a cage," Mr Dubs said.
'Jamie's Fowl Dinners' caused a furore when it screened in Britain in January. The programme features a chicken being electrocuted and blood being drained from its neck to show the way the animals are slaughtered.
Mr Oliver and Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall, say part of the solution to improving the treatment of chickens lies in getting supermarkets to set a fair price for 'ethically reared' birds.
Their campaign has the backing of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) in the UK.
Australian animal protection organisation, Voiceless, said people should not hide from the reality of modern-day chicken farming.
"I recently visited a chicken farm in New South Wales and the deprivation that these animals suffer is appalling and unrelenting," Voiceless director Brian Sherman said.
He said 20 chickens per square metre could be lawfully packed in sheds which can hold 60,000 birds.
"These birds have little or no freedom to engage in natural behaviours like foraging for food and have no exposure to the outside world," he said.
Mr Sherman said he backed Oliver's stance but his organisation did not condone the graphic scenes of chickens being gassed and slaughtered.