Dutch to ditch lower welfare chicken

Dutch supermarkets are to stop selling fast-growing chickens. From the end of 2023 all chicken meat will carry a ‘Beter Leven (Better Life) label with at least one star.

The label, which was developed by the Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals, is based on a three star system – the more stars the higher the welfare. For example, animals reared to two stars have access to the outdoors, while those certified with three have access to the most space indoors and out.

One star also exceeds the minimum legal requirements. “There is a big difference between a regular, fast-growing broiler and a Beter Leven one star chicken,” said Ingrid de Jong, an expert in poultry welfare from Wageningen University, Netherlands, in an interview with foodnavigator.com.

The SPA said the commitment made by supermarkets “means better welfare for about 100 million chickens”.

Pressure is growing on supermarkets and foodservice operators to switch to slower-growing breeds of chicken and raise welfare standards.

This is good news for the chickens but is it good news for the climate? Slower-growing birds live longer and need more feed and can therefore weigh in with larger environmental footprints. But research at Wageningen has showed the Beter Leven chickens actually require less soya.

“Obviously, the climate and the environment are better off when we consume less animal food products,” the university’s Bram Bos said.

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