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Animal welfare protest outside Dundee Morrisons over claims supermarket sells ‘Frankenchickens’

Protesters outside the Morrisons supermarket in Dundee.
Protesters outside the Morrisons supermarket in Dundee.

Animal welfare campaigners have held a protest outside the Morrisons supermarket in Dundee over claims the retailer is selling so-called ‘Frankenchickens’.

More than a dozen protests were held at outlets across the UK by campaigners from charities Open Cages, Animal Equality UK, and The Humane League UK.

They want the retailer to sign the Better Chicken Commitment.

Frankenchickens are birds that are genetically engineered to grow bigger and faster than they naturally would.

It is claimed one of Morrisons’ main suppliers is involved in rearing these birds.

Birds ‘can suffer heart attacks because of fast growth’

A statement from The Humane League UK said: “Over one billion chickens are raised and slaughtered for their meat in the UK every year, the vast majority of which are bred to grow at an unnatural speed, reaching slaughter weight in just a matter of weeks.

“They can suffer painful lameness and even heart attacks because of their fast growth, and are raised in cramped conditions.

“The BCC was created by experts at animal protection organisations to address the very worst forms of suffering endured by these chickens.

“It offers an affordable, realistic alternative and prohibits the use of fast-growing breeds; provides natural light, enrichment, and more space; reduces suffering at slaughter and requires third-party auditing.

Shoppers outside Morrisons in Dundee signing a petition calling for action from the supermarket chain.

“The only UK supermarkets to have committed to the BCC are Marks & Spencer and Waitrose & Partners.”

In response to the claims, Morrisons said: “We care deeply about animal welfare and require all our suppliers to maintain the highest standards.

“We have asked Cranswick [the supplier] to conduct a full investigation and report back to us.”

The retailer also told The Courier that Cranswick had conducted an investigation on the matter, and pointed us to a web page about its animal welfare standards.

In a statement, Cranswick said: “We have been made aware of footage of our farms, filmed by Open Cages, following on from a number of separate incursions.

Apology over footage

“The film shows a small number of our chickens suffering on farms operated by Cranswick and these birds should have been removed as part of our standard high welfare procedures.

The team at Cranswick would like to apologise for the recent footage.

“We have investigated this thoroughly both internally and with the support of unannounced external audits.

“Whilst we are confident that the occurrences are isolated we have identified procedural improvements to our farming system that have been implemented to significantly reduce the likelihood of an issue occurring in the future.

Campaigners speak to customers outside Morrisons in Dundee.

“We are extremely proud of our long-standing reputation for maintaining excellent standards of animal welfare across the business, and this will always be our top priority.

“All of our chicken farms operate to the accredited standards of the Red Tractor mark and have a long-standing track record of excellent independent audit results.

“We also frequently review and invest in projects that further enhance welfare such as our recent introduction of in shed hatching for all of the chickens we grow.”

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