Animal welfare campaigners staged a protest outside a Morrisons in Dundee today over claims of cruelty in the supermarket’s chicken supply chain.
Holding placards with pictures of intensively farmed ‘Frankenchickens’, they demanded the removal of the fast-growing birds from the retailer’s shelves.
The Dundee protest was part of over 20 across the UK, including a similar stunt in St Andrews, Fife.
They say it was organised to coincide with the launch of a new range of chicken reared to higher welfare standards.
But the group branded the move a “cheap gesture” as Morrisons continue to source the vast majority of its chicken meat from intensively farmed animals.
Campaigners say the birds are engineered to grow 400% faster than those bred in the 1950s, leaving them “monstrous and deformed”.
Morrisons previously launched a probe after undercover filming by Open Cages appeared to show chickens on farms run by its suppliers that had grown so large they were unable to walk.
Connor Jackson, CEO of Open Cages said: “Don’t be fooled by the cheap gestures and PR spin.
Chicken welfare concerns
“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.”
He added: “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.
“These are the expected consequences of the poor welfare standards that Morrisons has chosen.”
Morrisons ‘actively monitors supply chain’
But the Morrisons insisted it cares deeply about animal welfare, with all its regular chicken farmed above the existing 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,” a spokeswoman for the retailer said.
She added: “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.”