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UK poultry industry unimpressed by chef's tactics

British celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has returned to UK television and states that his campaign to convert consumers to buy free-range and organic chicken was doing well.

The previous series targeted supermarkets for not supporting high standards of animal welfare. Now, the new series of River Cottage claimed top-end chicken sales were still increasing.
NFU poultry board chairman Charles Bourn said Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall 's campaign had an effect on his business, stating that an increased demand for premium chicken convinced him to rear chickens to RSPCA Freedom Food standards. “My chicken farm was not making any money so I now grow the Freedom Food chickens that suit a growing number of consumers,” he said.
However, the tactic to move people away from 'standard chicken' on welfare grounds has angered the poultry industry. “Just because I grow Freedom Food chickens doesn't mean the welfare is any better - it is just me making an economic decision. Regardless of what sort of chicken we grow, they are all looked after to the highest welfare standards,” said Bourn, reports Farmers Guardian.
Peter Bradnock, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, said the attack on 'standard chicken' was 'misleading and confusing' to consumers. “British chicken is produced to a set of rigorous and transparent standards under the Assured Chicken Production (ACP) scheme," he said, adding that because it carries the supermarkets' own labels, ACP chicken meets supermarkets' high standards of welfare, husbandry, food safety and environmental protection.
“Assured British chicken is identified by the Red Tractor mark on food labels. The aim is to give consumers a choice of products that fulfil their ethical aspirations, but also suit their budget,” he said.
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Editor WorldPoultry

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