Last night’s expose of organic chicken which is not all it seems was shocking indeed. Tonight with Trevor McDonald revealed high levels of risky bacteria but also claimed that chickens were being kept in conditions which we average consumers would see as far from “organic” or “free range”.
Eaten alive by vermin or crushed into small cages, the footage shown was a world away from the dust-bathing, roaming hens which we expect for paying triple the price in the supermarket.
But what Trevor’s programme failed to reveal was how we as consumers are supposed to safeguard ourselves (and the chickens) from this practice.
The body responsible for organic standards, The Soil Association, welcomed the investigation but in a long statement claimed that all “Soil Association poultry must have access to outdoor pasture, with suitable vegetation and enough cover to imitate their natural habitat (wooded/scrubland). Research shows large flocks do reduce outdoor access, as more dominant chickens block the shed’s ‘pop-holes’; so many birds may never go outside. Soil Association standards set a minimum pop-hole requirement of 4m for every 100m2 of housing, sufficient to enable all birds to gain access to the outdoor range.”
Nice words, but who exactly is checking up on this? How do we know the truth about that expensive cling-wrapped supermarket portion?
Thanks to Jack Eye at Flickr for this great close up picture.