Rosa the campaigning chicken ended her 39-day tour of the European Union (EU) yesterday (Monday, 8 September), finishing with a public event outside the European Parliament in Brussels.
For 39 days, from August 1, Tamsin French, a free-range chicken farmer’s daughter from Devon, UK and a team of campaigners, have been touring the European Union dressed as a six-foot chicken called ‘Rosa’.
Rosa has visited 21 EU countries 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?’
Demanding clearer labelling
During a special finale event, Rosa presented a letter, signed by 80,000 EU citizens, to Pavel Poc MEP, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Animal Welfare Intergroup.
The European Commission is reviewing poultrymeat labelling this summer – ‘Rosa’ wants them to deliver clear and compulsory 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.
Better information for consumers
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.
Ms French said:
“Our free range chickens live for fifty-six days, and from the moment they’re old enough to go outside they can range through tree covered, landscaped fields where they can express natural habitual behaviour.
“It’s important that consumers can accurately and easily identify the farm system used to rear their chicken meat. The labelling term ‘free range’ accurately reflects the life of our free range chickens.
“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 across Europe.
“The European Commission has recognised that mandatory labelling gives producers the opportunity to differentiate on price and earn a better, fairer living. I want to see this type of labelling extended to chicken meat – because clear, comparable, point of sale information is essential for higher welfare markets to grow.”
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 their natural behaviour.
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.
39Days4Rosa is part of the Labelling Matters campaign – a partnership project of Compassion in World Farming, RSPCA, Soil Association, and World Animal Protection. Labelling Matters is strongly supported by Eurogroup for Animals.
Find out more about the Labelling Matters campaign.