Animal welfare campaigners, Eurogroup for Animals, are calling for better EU-wide animal welfare legislation to address hardships faced as a result of some intensive broiler farming practices.
With the current EU animal welfare legislation in the process of being revised, the campaign group is saying now is a critical time for Europe to take an ever-clearer stance against cruelty ahead of final decisions expected to be made next year.
It is asking for the standards for broilers to be updated to include higher welfare standards that are at least in line with the requirements laid down in the European Chicken Commitment. Such standards include, among others, lower maximum stocking densities without derogations, the use of breeds that demonstrate higher welfare outcomes, and the provision of natural light, perches and pecking substrates in barns.
Reineke Hameleers, Eurogroup for Animals chief executive, said: “Unless the very fabric of factory farming is changed and both corporates and policymakers across the EU commit to higher animal welfare standards, not only will innocent animals continue to suffer, but our health and that of the planet will continue to be at risk.”
The comments come as several NGOs have called on Lidl to sign the European Chicken Commitment following the release of investigations that reveal poor conditions for broilers on their suppliers’ farms in Germany, Italy and Spain. The campaign, led by Equalia and the Albert Schweitzer Foundation in Germany, said the footage, showing broiler chickens being abused and neglected, was totally unacceptable. Over 270 businesses, such as Carrefour and Auchan, have already signed the commitment.
Brenda Ferretti, campaigns manager for Essere Animali, said Lidl was one of the few supermarkets that had not joined the initiative even though consumers were increasingly asking for a more sustainable farming system that was attentive to animal welfare.
Lidl says on its European website says that “social responsibility, fair trade and sustainable products are firmly anchored in our processes.”