Media in a Flap on Poultry Welfare

UK - This week the UK poultry industry has come under massive scrutiny from the British media after the launch of several programs that highlight poultry welfare lapses across the whole production system. The programs are being aired every day this week on British television and are each being presented by a host of the nations most famous celebrity chefs.
calendar icon 9 January 2008
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The campaign has been launched by the Royal Society of Protection to Cruelty of Animals and also the animal rights group Compassion in World Farming and the issue has now been passed on to the media. The British Broadcasting Channel have reported that the campaign is trying to persuade shoppers that intensively-reared chicken meat and eggs affect animal welfare, and must be changed.

"Jamie is actually campaigning for British farmers. He says it’s disgraceful they are paid so little."
A spokesman for Jamie Oliver.

Broiler chickens are birds that have been selectively bred and reared for their meat rather than eggs.

The industry began in the late 1950s. About 75% of the world's food animals are broiler chickens and some 200 billion are produced annually - 800 million of them in the UK.

It reports that the farming takes place in large and usually windowless sheds, often containing tens of thousands of birds which have been bred to grow more quickly: typically a broiler reaches a finished weight of 2.5kg within nine weeks. It's sold in the shops for a price of around £2.50.

The Telegraph reported on Jamie Oliver's programme. They said the chef carried out his demonstration to show how the vast majority of chickens in this country are slaughtered.

'In another scene, he shows a clutch of males chicks who are unsuitable for the egg industry being suffocated in an oxygen-starved chamber.'

However the Times newspaper has sympathised with poultry farmers, saying that the recent protest have hurt the people they were supposed to protect - the farmers.

They said that one of Britain’s leading poultry producers, Charles Bourns, of Wootton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, quit the business this week, saying supermarkets pay so little that he loses 15p on every bird. He said he was among dozens of poultry farmers to have shut up shop in the past year. He blamed supermarkets for pricing a whole chicken at “less than a service-station cappuccino”.

Sainsbury’s, criticised by Oliver this week, is selling chickens for as little as £3.50 for two. Mr Bourns fears that the chefs are “making a bad situation worse because they affect demand for a product already produced at, or even below, the limit of viability”.

A spokesman for Jamie Oliver said: “Jamie is actually campaigning for British farmers. He says it’s disgraceful they are paid so little.”

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