Sainsbury’s have back-pedalled on their chicken welfare pledge, with their Good Chicken Award withdrawn by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF). The award was given to the retailer in 2010 after they made a commitment to provide chickens with natural light, more space and enrichment, as well as a slower growing breed of bird.
The commitments that Sainsbury’s pledged are meant to be met within five years under the Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards criteria, however less than 20 per cent of fresh chicken supplied to Sainsbury’s have been given this raised standard of welfare.
Head of Public Campaigns at CIWF, Sean Gifford, 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, that many struggle to walk, and some develop serious heart conditions.”
Dr Tracey Jones, CIWF’s 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 too.”
However, Sainsbury’s have tried to reassure customers that the retailer is still committed to ‘high standards’ when it comes to animal welfare. A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s said: “It is what our customers expect from us, and it is why we are the UK’s biggest retailer of RSPCA Assured products and the world’s biggest retailer of MSC certified products.
“While we share Compassion in World Farming’s commitment to improving animal welfare practices, we have been clear to them we believe a different approach is more effective. The way we work with our farmers is different, and has been for years. We’ve created a cycle of measuring, managing and continuously improving the health and welfare of our animals, and we believe the results speak for themselves.”
CIWF have an open letter to Sainsbury’s, which you can sign here.