Shoppers Show Double Standards on Chicken Welfare

UK - New research, published by RSPCA Assured yesterday, reveals shoppers prefer different welfare standards for chickens that lay eggs and chickens farmed for their meat.
calendar icon 27 February 2017
clock icon 3 minute read

According to the survey 60 per cent of the public always buy cage free eggs, but as few as around half that number (33 per cent) say they always chicken meat from higher-welfare farming systems such as free range or organic.

This huge disparity is in spite of the majority (86 per cent) of respondents saying they think all the chicken we eat should come from farms using ethical welfare standards.

Clive Brazier, chief executive of RSPCA Assured, says: “Most of us are making a higher welfare choice for barn, free range and organic eggs but when it comes to choosing what chicken to roast on a Sunday or where to have fried chicken we seem to be forgetting our ethics.”

Consumer pressure has brought about a revolution in the UK egg industry with cage-free (barn, free range and organic) production accounting for 52 per cent of eggs in 2016.

According to RSPCA scientist, Sophie Elwes, labelling may play a part in the lower consumption levels of chicken meat from higher-welfare systems.

She says: “With eggs it’s easy - by law they have to state whether they come from hens in cages and many supermarkets have actually stopped selling eggs from cages altogether.

“But meat chicken labels are a minefield. Claims made on packaging and dubious ‘farm name’ brands can mislead people into thinking the chicken they are buying is higher welfare when it’s not.”

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