Leading farm animal welfare charity Compassion in World Farming, is urging the public to shame Sainsbury’s following its failure to make meaningful progress to improve chicken welfare standards within its supply chain.
Sainsbury’s was one of the first companies to be receive a Good Chicken Award in the UK in 2010, when it announced plans to stock only higher welfare own-label fresh chicken – at a time when public interest in chicken welfare had been raised through a prominent campaign headed by celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Under the Good Chicken Award, Sainsbury’s committed to improving the space allowance in its chicken sheds, providing the birds with natural light and enrichment such as straw bales for them to peck at and perch on and moving to a more robust slower growing breed of bird.
According to the Award criteria, these commitments must be met within five years. Unfortunately, Sainsbury’s has achieved low conversion on its Good Chicken Award commitments since 2010 and has therefore failed to deliver on its promise. Today less than 20% of Sainsbury’s fresh chicken is higher welfare.
Compassion has withdrawn the Good Chicken Award and is calling on its supporters to sign the open letter at shamesburys.co.uk, to tell them what they think of their broken promise. The petition carries a striking spoof apology from ‘Shamesbury’s’ publicising that the retailer has failed to meet its commitment to supply 100% higher welfare fresh chicken.
“After eight years, we’ve had to call time on this situation,” explained Sean Gifford, Head of Public Campaigns at Compassion in World Farming. “By going back on its word, Sainsbury’s is consigning millions of animals to a life of misery in overcrowded sheds, where the chickens are selectively bred to grow so big, so fast, that many struggle to walk, and some develop serious heart conditions.
“The UK has long been regarded as leader in higher welfare but as companies like Sainsbury’s backtrack, we are in danger of falling behind other countries in this field.”
At a time when there is increasing public interest in animal welfare and better food, and when so many other companies are bearing the costs to advance their welfare standards, it’s deeply disappointing to see the company that wants to be ‘the UK’s most trusted retailer’ backtrack on their higher welfare promise.
Sean Gifford concludes: “Approximately 900 million chickens are reared for meat in the UK each year and a staggering 86 million are wasted – that’s almost 10%.
"By paying a little more, by eating less and wasting less, meat can be produced to higher welfare standards, which is affordable for all. We do need companies like Sainsbury’s to take the lead and make higher welfare meat readily available. By reneging on their promise, they are not just letting their customers and the chickens down but themselves too. We urge everyone who agrees to visit shamesburys.co.uk to make Sainsbury’s rethink their actions.”