Free-range broiler producer’s daughter Tamsin French is about to embark on a 39-day tour of Europe – dressed as a chicken.
The initiative, arranged by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), the RSPCA and the Soil Association, aims to press the case for the mandatory labelling of chickenmeat according to the system it was reared in. As part of their Labelling Matters campaign, they want to see the terms “free-range”, “extensive indoors” or “intensive indoors” clearly stamped on packs.
“Method of production labelling already exists for shell eggs,” said Ms French. “It means consumers can tell which farm system was used to produce the eggs they buy and has been an important factor in driving the dramatic increase in the number of cage-free egg-laying hens across Europe.
“I want to see this type of labelling extended to chickenmeat – because clear, comparable, point of sale information is important if higher welfare markets are to grow.”
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Ms French, whose family runs a 22,000 Freedom Food free-range broiler flock in Devon, will be joined by Johanna Olsson, an animal science student from Berkshire, and Sam White, an animal welfare campaigner from Essex. They will visit 19 EU countries over 39 days, arriving in Brussels on 8 September.
The EU Commission is reviewing poultrymeat labelling this summer and, according to a campaign statement, eight out of 10 consumers support mandatory method of production labelling.
CIWF notes that while EU regulations set out the standards, if retailers wish to label their chickens by production method, this is still voluntary. “It should be relatively straightforward to change these labelling terms to mandatory and to add a requirement that meat from chickens reared intensively indoors must be labelled ‘intensive indoors’,” it says.