EXCLUSIVE INVESTIGATION: RSPCA's Freedom Foods label exposed
It is a label that
promises high welfare for animals at a premium price for consumers. But
a Five News investigation has exposed a farm under the RSPCA's Freedom Food
scheme which is flouting the rules.
We found chickens in cramped conditions, dead birds and electric
wire at the farm producing eggs for a well-known brand.
the past two years we've exposed five farms keeping their birds in poor
response to our findings, the RSPCA and Noble Foods provided us with the
RSPCA and Freedom Food take any potential breaches of RSPCA welfare standards
very seriously indeed.
been notified on Friday 1 October of alleged welfare breaches at two Freedom
Food approved farms, we were not supplied with any footage to allow us to
verify whether or not there were welfare standard breaches and /or other
welfare issues until 2.00 pm on Tuesday 5 October.
what we were able to ascertain from a careful viewing of the footage, there
are some potential causes for concern. However, further investigation
is required to verify issues raised in the footage.
RSPCA has therefore arranged for an immediate visit by the Scottish Food
Quality Certification (SFQC) to both farms.
addition, as a precautionary measure, Freedom Food has suspended both farms
from the Freedom Food scheme pending the results of that investigation.
We have also asked Channel 5 for a copy of the full footage taken by Viva
to be handed over to us for viewing.
are concerned that as some of the footage was taken as far back as July
this year, many of the birds will have since been removed. We
always ask that people report any such concerns to us as soon as possible
so that we are able to visit and investigate immediately and, where necessary,
take further action.
our knowledge, Viva has at no stage contacted us about their concerns prior
to Channel 5 taking receipt of this footage.
NOBLE FOODS statement:
Foods takes the treatment of its hens extremely seriously. As soon as we
were made aware of the video footage yesterday the company instigated an
Last night (5th October 2010), at our request, both farms involved were
audited by RSPCA Freedom Food inspectors and both were given very positive
We will continue to work with RSPCA Freedom Foods to ensure the highest
possible welfare standards across our farms.
NOBLE FOODS statement notes:
the time of the footage shown the flock in question was towards the end
of its laying cycle. Many elements of the footage are cut in such a way
as to show the conditions in an adverse light, and several claims made in
the video are inaccurate. The conclusion of the RSPCA Freedom Foods
audits last night states,
“…there is evidence of good quality caring management.
In all the houses inspected the birds were calm and exhibiting good natural
behaviour – beginning to roost but with many still ranging extensively…”
you look at the entire life cycle of this flock it is likely that all of
our major retailer customers received some egg most likely in the form of
happy egg, however it is also probable that most or all of these customers
received small quantities in their own branded products.
To cover some specific areas of the footage:
fully observe RSPCA Freedom Food Welfare Standards for Laying Hens which
states that the latest chickens must be given access to the range is 21
weeks. This was the case with this flock.
intention is always to fully comply with the Freedom Food rules. The use
of electric wires over feeders and drinkers, part of the installation in
the mid 1990s, is not permitted under Freedom Food rules which became a
standard in 2006.
we are checking to ensure any remaining sources of electrical current are
permanently disabled with immediate effect.
hens featured are fully free-range, they do have daylight access to fields,
trees, sandpits and a stimulating environment. Hens don’t
like going out in the rain but there is nothing to stop them and equally
nobody insists they must if they choose not to.
film was made covertly by Viva! – Vegetarian International Voice for
Animals - who are fiercely opposed to meat eating, consider such action
causes environmental destruction, damages human health and contributes to
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