The chief poultry adviser of UK farming group NFU has written to national newspaper, the Independent this week, following an article in which it was suggested that consumers should choose Thai chicken over British birds because of welfare standards.
In reposnse to the claims made by Dr Marc Cooper of the RSPCA the following letter of reply was submitted:
‘Regarding your story ‘Call for boycott of British chicken’ (Nov 4), there are a number of reasons why most consumers prefer to buy quality British chicken such as a desire to source more locally and supporting the British economy.
‘However, contrary to RSPCA comments, welfare is certainly not the reason to choose Thai or Brazilian chicken in preference over British.
‘The welfare of poultry, like all farmed animals, relies on skilled stockmanship, quality feed and inputs and farms operated and maintained to a high standard.
‘The Red Tractor assurance scheme, which is only licensed for use in the UK, has strict training requirements and systems to preserve flock health and welfare.
‘This consistency provides British consumers with the basic knowledge that all Red Tractor chickens will have come from a farm that has been independently inspected and is operating to the high standards appropriate to farming in the UK.
‘Whatever system of production consumers chose, from conventional to free range, bird welfare is paramount, thanks to the skill of British farmers and the standards to which they work.’
Charles Bourns NFU Poultry Board Chairman was also quoted in the Daily Mail in response to Dr Cooper’s claims. He said: “I was shocked by these comments. He is supposed to be working closely with British farmers, but this is completely at odds with that. He seems to be going out of his way to promote imports.”
National Farmers Union (NFU)