An undercover investigation at two 'ethical' chicken farms - one of which supplies supermarket giant Tesco - has revealed shocking animal abuse.
Pressure group, Animal Justice Project (AJP) carried out the three-month investigations at Trees Farm and Brome Grange in Suffolk. Both farms are accredited by the Red Tractor marketing scheme, which claims it offers food which is 'responsibly produced to some of the most comprehensive and respected standards in the world'. Trees Farm is also accredited by the RSPCA.
But the footage and images AJP obtained show chickens being kicked and thrown with force. Workers were documented snapping the necks of chicks, and leaving one chick to die over a period of eight hours. In addition, a worker was filmed urinating into a bucket then throwing live but seriously impaired birds into it eight hours later.
According to a Tesco spokesperson, the supermarket has suspended Brome Grange farm, and says it is 'fully investigating and will continue to engage with the appropriate authorities on welfare standards at the farm'.
The RSPCA has suspended Trees Farm from its accreditation scheme, saying: "We are shocked and disgusted. We are looking into these upsetting incidents."
Red Tractor, which was in the news just last week after investigations at three accredited Lincolnshire farms revealed abuse, said both Suffolk farms had been 'suspended with immediate effect', saying it takes 'allegations of breaches' seriously.
The footage reveals horrific animal suffering
'Cruel abuse and pain'
"This extensive investigation into the lives of 'slow growing' and supposedly high welfare chickens - from the placing of chicks to the catching of young birds at nine weeks old for slaughter – reveals that 'meat' chickens are subjected to cruel abuse, pain, and suffering regardless of labels," AJP Founder, Claire Palmer, states, said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.
"We have recorded scenes of birds having their necks broken by workers and thrown convulsing onto the floor or into a bucket of urine, baby chicks being kicked, stepped on, and having their necks snapped on feeder lines, the routine breaching of welfare guidelines.
"[We documented] the potential breaking of European law, workers failing at biosecurity, a negligence by workers to check on the birds' welfare which resulted in lame, sick and dying chickens being left to suffer for days, and a free range, RSPCA-Assured range that is mainly concrete.
"The public is being fed a lie by the industry, The RSPCA, and even other animal welfare organizations. Slow growing birds still suffer. They are still subjected to horrendous abuse at the hands of catching teams holding RSPCA certificates. Animal Justice Project advocates a vegan diet for consumers as the only solution to truly protect animals."
Animal Justice Project will take its findings to the Annual National Poultry and Egg Awards backed by the British Poultry Council in central London on July 4, and will be campaigning on high streets and university campuses across Britain to promote a vegan diet as part of its new campaign 'The Foul Truth'.