Chickens will live a less paltry life after MEP vote

Broiler chicken protection set to increase

Strasbourg, 14 February 2006 -- The five billion chickens slaughtered across the European Union each year for their meat will will see their conditions ameliorate following a vote in the European Parliament on welfare standards for broiler chickens.

Proposals were put forward by the European Commission to bring welfare standards into line across the EU as current divergent levels of quality assurance can distort the internal market. The European Parliament's report sets out suitable levels of stock density, rules for ventilation, heating, cooling and lighting.

The European Parliament has also demanded the EU takes a hard line on imports from outside the European Union. A great deal of partially cooked meat usually used for processed foods is imported from outside the European Union and MEPs want these imports to be subject to similar stringent standards as EU members. The report also strongly supports the European Commission's investigations into whether a common labelling system could be introduced across the EU which would detail production methods and place of origin. MEPs want to drastically speed up the time frame within which these investigations will be completed.

Conservative MEPs, including Sir Robert Atkins, Conservative Deputy Leader in the European Parliament, have been working to ensure the directive strikes a balance between chicken welfare and a profitable poultry industry which is already faced with low profit margins.

Sir Robert said:

"Higher animal welfare standards create better chickens and happier consumers.

"The proposals we have agreed today will ensure consumers get quality chicken meat from EU countries but they should be able to buy imported chicken with the confidence that it has been treated well and subjected to a healthy environment.

"Poultry farmers must not see their industry harmed by imports from other countries produced to lesser standards. We must get a robust labelling system in place without delay."

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