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Sainsbury’s backtracks on chicken welfare

News Section Icon Published 05/04/2018

We are extremely disappointed to announce that Sainsbury’s has failed to deliver on their commitment to sell 100% higher welfare, fresh own-label chicken.

In 2010, we gave Sainsbury’s the prestigious Good Chicken Award for making a public commitment to provide their chickens with more space, natural light and enrichment and to introduce a more robust, slower growing breed of bird.

A broken promise

Company commitments should be met within five years under our Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards criteria, yet today less than 20% of Sainsbury’s fresh chicken is higher welfare.

As a result, we have withdrawn the retailer’s Good Chicken Award and we are calling on our supporters to sign an open letter to Sainsbury’s, to tell them what they think of their broken promise.

Sean Gifford, our Head of Public Campaigns, said: “After eight years, we’ve had to call time on this situation. 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.

Other companies aren’t chickening out

Despite this news, chicken welfare is still very much on the corporate agenda. To date, over 80 companies in the US have now made 2024 commitments to improve  the lives of meat chickens by tackling problems of fast growing breeds, and overcrowding in relatively barren environments, alongside the need for humane slaughter.

In Europe, M&S has joined Unilever and contract caterer Elior Group in signing up to the new European criteria for chickens – similar to those in the US – promising to achieve their aims by 2026.

Animal health and welfare matters

Dr Tracey Jones, our Director of Food Business, said: “It’s extremely disappointing to see Sainsbury’s backtrack on its higher welfare commitments when other companies, like M&S, are committing to advance their chicken standards even further. We expect a leading UK retailer like Sainsbury’s who ‘knows that animal health and welfare matters’ to its customers to be at the forefront of the growing movement for higher welfare chicken.

“By not delivering on its welfare commitments – and in fact by completely withdrawing from them – Sainsbury’s is falling behind the curve and not only letting the chickens and its customers down but itself down too.”

You can find out more about Sainsbury’s #BrokenPromise, and add your name to the open letter at shamesburys.co.uk