M&S becomes first UK supermarket to stop selling unnaturally-fast grown fresh chicken – after probe revealed how birds buckled under own weight and spent final days lame and in pain
- Marks and Spencer beat out rival retailers and promises change by next autumn
- Several industry leaders have praised the British retail giant’s ‘landmark’ move
- Fast-grown chickens used by many major supermarkets use genetic selection, but several media outlets revealed the shocking conditions the birds endure
Marks & Spencer is set to be the first UK supermarket to stop selling unnaturally-fast grown fresh chicken after a probe unveiled the shocking conditions such birds live in.
The British supermarket giant has become the first in the country to pledge to replace its fast-grown fresh chicken with slower breeds by next year.
And in a further promise and major boost to British farmers, M&S said all the chicken it sells will come from homegrown farms that use slower growth methods and are backed by the RSPCA.
A 2019 report by the Times revealed how the fast-growing chickens, developed using genetic selection, were buckling under their own went and would spend their final days lame and in pain.
M&S beat out competition from rival retailer Waitrose and other High Street luminaries such as Greggs, Nando’s, KFC and Pizza Express – who have all signed the ‘better chicken commitment’ that promises better welfare for the birds.
Chicken remains Britain’s most popular bird, with more than 2.7million of them eaten daily.
Marks & Spencer is set to be the first UK supermarket to stop selling unnaturally-fast grown fresh chicken after a probe unveiled the shocking conditions such birds live in
Marks & Spencer signed the ‘Better Chicken Commitment’ – an industry-wide pledge to better protect the welfare of birds – in 2017.
While most UK chickens are bred with the expectation of gaining almost 100 grams in weight each day for just over a month, slower-growing and less profitable breeds tend to be slaughtered at 56 days.
The Times reports that the growth rates of UK chickens have nearly quadrupled over the last half century from 25g per day.
After the news broke, a host of industry leaders praised the supermarket’s newest announcement and called on other retailers to follow the ‘landmark’ move.
Chris Sherwood, RSPCA chief executive, explained that the move by M&S was a ‘landmark achievement for animal welfare’.
‘By simply switching to using only slower growing breeds of chicken, retailers can make an enormous difference to the lives and welfare of millions of chickens reared in this country every year for their meat.’
Dr Tracey Jones, Director of Food Business at Compassion in World Farming said: ‘We applaud M&S for being the first retailer to sign up to the Better Chicken Commitment, the first to start transitioning supply, and the first to roll out product on shelf with their ‘Oakham Gold’ fresh chicken.
Marks & Spencer signed the ‘Better Chicken Commitment’ – an industry-wide pledge to better protect the welfare of birds – in 2017. [File picture]
‘Making commitments across the entire supply is a major step towards higher welfare chicken becoming a baseline standard, however concrete plans and contracts with suppliers are imperative to move the market forwards.
‘Companies that have made the Better Chicken Commitment must start their transition now and those that are yet to sign up need to get on board.
‘M&S are leading the UK market and we urge others to follow suit if we are to succeed in achieving genuine change for chickens.’