Animal welfare campaigners dressed in butcher outfits descended outside the Morrisons store in Chorlton urging supermarket bosses to remove ‘genetically engineered Frankenchickens’ from their shelves.
Open Cages campaigners protested outside 21 Morrisons stores across the country at the weekend in response to the supermarket chain’s launch of a small range of chicken reared to higher welfare standards. Campaigners described the move as a ‘cheap gesture’ as it still continues to source ‘intensively farmed’ chickens, also known as ‘Frankenchickens’, which are grown 400% faster than naturally and can be prone to deformities and heart attacks.
Last year, undercover filming from the campaign group found ‘monstrous and deformed’ chickens collapsing on four farms supplying Morrisons’ welfare-assured Butchers on Market Street meat label. Protestors highlighted the ‘horrifying’ conditions outside the stores with a billboard truck parodying the retailer’s ad campaigns by stating “there’s nothing good about this chicken”.
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Connor Jackson, CEO of Open Cages, said: “Don’t be fooled by the cheap gestures and PR spin. For years now Morrisons has sat on their hands and done the absolute minimum possible to improve chicken welfare, whilst pedalling out feel good marketing campaigns and wearing only the costume of a company that cares about animals.
“Morrisons say they never tolerate malpractice in their supply chain. But as many as 30% of Frankenchickens can barely walk because of painful lameness and deformities. Millions of these monstrous birds die from heart attacks because they can’t handle growing 400% faster than natural, millions more have their necks broken to simply put them out of their misery. Morrisons tolerates this daily because the scenes we filmed are the norm in their supply chain. These are the expected consequences of the poor welfare standards that Morrisons has chosen.
“We simply want Morrisons to follow the hundreds of other companies like M&S, Waitrose, KFC and Subway who have already committed to taking Frankenchickens off the shelves. These practices are opposed by the vast majority of the British public, and Morrisons could make this pledge overnight if they spent as much time on their welfare standards as they did playing PR games.”
Morrisons has said that procedures are now in place to ‘significantly reduce’ the chances of the problems in last year’s undercover footage from happening again. The retailer says its range of chicken now adheres to all nine of the Better Chicken Commitment standards, a set of science-backed improved welfare standards which is also backed by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
A Morrisons spokeswoman told the M.E.N: “We care deeply about animal welfare. All our regular chicken is raised to above Red Tractor standards; we are also the only retailer in Europe to ask our fresh chicken suppliers to require chicken to be born into the barn in which it will be raised by 2025.
“80% of our fresh chicken meets this standard already. We also actively monitor for any malpractice in our supply chain; we will never tolerate it or look the other way and if we ever find it, we will act swiftly and decisively.”
Over 300 companies across the UK and Europe have signed the Better Chicken Commitment meaning that by 2026 they will sell only slower growing chickens reared with far more living space.
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