The Co-operative loses Good Chicken Award

The Co-operative has been stripped of its Good Chicken Award by Compassion in World Farming (CiWF), after bowing down to consumer demand for cheaper food.

The retailer, which CiWF said was formerly a superhero of ethical supermarkets, was awarded the accolade in 2010 for its commitment to improving the welfare conditions of almost 50 million broiler chickens a year.

However, according to CiWF, The Co-operative has since gone back on its word, resulting in its indoor chickens living in more crowded conditions. While the level of crowding is still within the legal requirement, and better than other retailers, it is “a backward step”.

Earlier this month the retailer confirmed it was changing the welfare standards of the chickens it sold, resulting in a move to higher welfare conditions to “standard intensive production”.

Stocking density has increased from from 30kg/m2 (the maximum permitted to be eligible for a Good Chicken Award) to 34kg/m2.

A spokesperson for The Co-operative said: “Shoppers want food that is both responsibly sourced and competitive on price and we have therefore taken steps to maintain the right approach to sourcing while making British chicken available to more people at better value.

“The change, which affects only our own-brand fresh standard chicken, will mean our birds still enjoy lower stocking densities than required for Red Tractor Farm Assurance, or offered by the Big Four supermarkets on equivalent ranges.”

Dr Tracey Jones, director of food business, CiWF, said: “The Co-op has traditionally been a leader in higher animal welfare, but in this case we’re left with no choice but to withdraw its Good Chicken Award. We cannot ignore that the company is now reneging on the promises it made in 2010.”

The CiWF is now calling on the retailer to reclaim its former status by living up to its previous promises.

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