Animal welfare at risk from desire for cheap meat

UK - Animal welfare in UK farms is being compromised by penny-pinching consumers who opt for cheap foreign imports over more expensive, ethically produced meat.
calendar icon 14 August 2006
clock icon 3 minute read
Peter Stevenson, chief policy adviser for Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), claimed British farmers cannot afford to further raise standards because they are struggling to match the prices of inexpensive foreign meats which are being snapped up by consumers.

He said: “Globalisation is taking a toll because it means our farmers’ prices are undermined . Scottish and British farmers are put in a difficult competitive position when our welfare standards improve. The only constructive way to deal with this is for consumers to avoid buying cheap imported meat.”

Stevenson – who is speaking later this month at the Scottish parliament’s Festival of Politics – said people would be “horrified” if they saw what happens in the majority of pig and poultry farms.

“Chickens kept in sheds of 50,000; these sheds are so overcrowded and the birds grow so big that you can hardly see the floor. These chickens have been bred to grow so quickly that they have serious leg problems. We rear 800 million chickens a year in the UK and are slaughtering two million a day.

“We are a relatively rich society and most members of the public could afford to change from battery to free-range eggs. ”

He urged shoppers and corporate consumers such as supermarkets and food manufacturers to shop more responsibly, adding: “If a big firm like McDonald’s can make a commitment to free-range eggs, then anyone can.”

Source: Sunday Herald
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