Free-range farmer tours Europe in a chicken suit, calling for honest labelling.

Rosa's 39 day tour across Europe © RSPCA

01.08.14

Today, Friday 1 August, Rosa the campaigning chicken will set out for her 39-day tour of the European Union (EU).

Rosa is calling for clear and compulsory welfare labelling of poultrymeat. She wants consumers to be able to answer the simple question, ‘How was this chicken kept?’

39 days is the average lifespan of an intensively farmed meat chicken. Intensive farming can lead to severe heart problems, lameness and abnormal growth rates in chickens. These are not the conditions most people associate with chicken farming.

Demanding clearer labelling for consumers

Labelling MattersRosa begins her journey in London and will end her 39-day tour in Brussels on September 9. In between, Rosa will visit 20 European Union Member States – demanding that all poultrymeat is labelled clearly according to method of production.

The European Commission is reviewing poultrymeat labelling this summer – Rosa wants them to deliver honest, mandatory labelling for European consumers.

Research shows that Rosa’s mission is supported by most people in Europe. Eight out of ten European Union consumers support mandatory method of production labelling of poultrymeat.

RSPCA campaigner Eloise Shavelar said:

“Food labels are an important way of ensuring consumers can make informed choices about what they eat and welfare labelling can also help to raise standards for farm animals. Consumers should no longer be kept in the dark about where their meat comes from, that’s why we are calling for clear and compulsory welfare labelling.”

Touring with Rosa – meet the team

Rosa is animated by a team of three volunteers from the UK: Tamsin French, a free-range chicken farmer from Devon; Johanna Olsson, an Animal Science student from Berkshire; and Sam White, an animal welfare campaigner from Essex.

Rosa is touring across Europe to campaign for clearer labelling © RSPCAPoultry farmer, Tamsin French, said:

“Method of production labelling already exists for shell eggs. It means consumers can tell which farm system was used to produce the eggs they buy and has been a huge factor in driving the dramatic increase in the number of cage-free egg-laying hens.

“Mandatory labelling has also given producers like me the opportunity to differentiate on price and earn a better, fairer living. I want to see this type of labelling extended to chickenmeat – because clear, comparable, point of sale information is essential for higher welfare markets to grow.”

In 2012, the European Commission promised consumers better information about farm animal welfare. Mandatory labelling of poultrymeat would deliver this, and requires just one simple rule change.

Animal science student, Johanna Olsson, said:

“Around 90 per cent of meat chickens reared in the EU are from intensive indoor systems. These chickens have little or no opportunity to display natural behaviours. Abnormal growth rates can lead to severe heart problems and lameness. These are not the conditions most people would expect on a chicken farm.”

Animal welfare campaigner, Sam White, said:

“So many meat and dairy labels use confusing language and images which suggest animals are kept in extensive, spacious, ‘natural’ conditions even when the animals have been reared in standard intensive systems.

“Egg labelling has shown that consumers can drive improvements in the way farm animals are reared, but they can only do this if there is honest, comparable information on products they buy.”

Follow Rosa’s tour

Rosa’s gruelling 39 day tour can be followed on:

The tour is also being supported by consumers and animal welfare groups across Europe.