Research Shows Shoppers’ Double Standards on Chicken Welfare

A new research published by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) reveals the double standards of shoppers on chicken welfare.

While a solid 86 percent of the respondents say they think all the chickens we eat should come from farms using ethical welfare standards, the figures dipped considerably in real life.

According to the research, 60 percent of the respondents always buy cage-free eggs and only 33 percent always buy the meat of chickens from higher-welfare farming systems such as free range or organic.

“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,” said Clive Brazier, chief executive of RSPCA Assured.

RSPCA Scientist Sophie Elwes said that labeling may play a part in the lower consumption levels of chicken meat from higher-welfare systems.

“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,” Elwes said.

Around 52 percent of eggs in the United Kingdom in 2016 were cage-free (barn, free range and organic).

“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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