Government U-Turn on Outrageous Plans to Scrap Official Animal Welfare Codes

Posted by on April 8, 2016 | Permalink

After hearing from PETA and other animal protection groups, Defra has backtracked and told us it will not be allowing the poultry industry to set its own rules about how chickens should be treated.

Thoughtful chicken CC0

Just hours after receiving a joint letter from PETA, Animal Aid, Humane Society International, Animal Equality, Four Paws, Viva! and Compassion in World Farming – and hearing from Kerry McCarthy, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – Defra has abandoned plans to scrap the statutory codes in place for broiler chickens in favour of industry-created guidelines.

“In light of views raised, we have given the matter further consideration and believe we can achieve our objectives by retaining the existing statutory codes”, said a Defra spokesperson.

This is a huge relief. Our letter to Environment Minister Liz Truss pointed out that allowing the industry to self-regulate by authoring its own rule book would risk lowering current animal welfare standards because farmers would no longer be required to abide by the codes – and the action would also potentially increase risk of zoonotic diseases and further overuse of antibiotics, jeopardising human health, too.

Broiler chickens already suffer hugely on UK farms, typically spending their entire lives densely packed in huge windowless sheds. Time and time again, undercover investigations into UK farms – even those with supposedly high welfare standards – have found sick, distressed animals languishing in horrific, filthy conditions. The government should be cracking down on this cruelty and making regulations stricter, rather than handing more power over to an industry whose primary concern is maximising the profit it can extract from sentient animals.

While it’s good news that poultry farming isn’t about to be deregulated, eating chicken still supports an industry that exploits and kills billions of intelligent chickens a year. Order our free starter kit to find out how to make the switch to a meat-free diet.