Welfare reports premature

Chicken bosses have branded media speculation surrounding a government report into the welfare of birds at slaughter as "unhelpful" and "premature".

Reports in the national media over the weekend claimed that government advisers are to call for an end to live shackling of chickens.

The Observer claimed that the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC), an independent body advising government, was to present details of its report on the slaughter of white meat species at a meeting today, ahead of the report's publication later in the year.

However, FAWC member Professor David Henderson has been quoted saying: "Live shackling is something that concerns us greatly, but unfortunately it is a necessary process for water-bath electrical stunning. We would like to see the industry address this procedure more vigorously. We would like to see it done away with over a number of years."

However the British Poultry Council (BPC) said the comments by Professor Henderson need to be considered in the context of the full report.

Peter Bradnock, BPC chief executive, said: "It is not helpful to have this amount of premature comment and speculation. What is important is to see what the FAWC are actually saying in the report and on what scientific basis they are saying it.

"Consumers would be better informed after all the organisations involved have had a chance to objectively consider the FAWC report, when it is eventually published. That consideration, rather than premature comment, should be the basis for the future of poultry slaughter methods."

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