Research by the Australian Chicken Meat Federation showed that at least two-thirds of Australians believe chicken growers treat their birds with growth hormones, according to Federation CEO Mr Andreas Dubs.
Mr Dubs said he was surprised by the extent of the myth, given hormone treatment of birds had been banned in Australia since the mid-1960s.
The survey of 1100 consumers from across Australia found that nearly 80 % incorrectly believed chickens were treated with ‘something’ to make them grow artificially larger; two thirds believed hormones were used to boost bird growth, whilst just over one third believed hormones in chickens represented a health hazard.
Additionally just over half of those surveyed “mistakenly believed genetic modification was used to boost chicken growth” (no farming of genetically modified animals is allowed in Australia).
Mr Dubs said in an interview: “Antibiotics, hormones and genetic modification were not the reason chickens were larger. Consumers are enjoying a plumper and larger chicken thanks to best practices in traditional breeding and continual improvements in how we raise and care for chickens.
“Many of the myths were fuelled by erroneous advertising claims about ‘hormone-free chicken’, a marketing ploy which relied on consumer ignorance. It is a lack of awareness that the industry is now addressing as part of a broader educational programme.”
In a statement the Federation added: “This research highlighted some incredible misconceptions about how chickens are raised in this country and it is time the industry addressed these with the facts.
“The industry has set up an information phone line for consumers to give them the facts, raise general knowledge about the chicken meat industry, and dispel myths about what actually goes into today’s chickens.”
For more information, see the Australian Chicken Meat Federation website.