Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons could be next
on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's hit list following his failed attempt to get Tesco to change its welfare standards for broiler standards.
At last week's agm, Tesco shareholders rejected Fearnley-Whittingstall's special resolution, which would have required Tesco to stock chicken reared to the RSPCA Freedom Foods standard as a minimum welfare guarantee.
Fearnley-Whittingstall, who bought a single Tesco share in order to table the resolution, won just 9.88% of the vote after the Tesco board vigorously opposed the resolution. The board claimed its intensively farmed chicken already met the 'five freedoms' as laid down by the Farm Animal Welfare Council and
championed by Fearnley-Whittingstall.
The freedoms are described as freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury or disease, freedom to express normal behaviour, and freedom from fear and distress.
The TV chef said his next move would be to target any retailer that used the so-called 'five freedoms' to market its meat.
"I don't think this is in danger of being taken for a wacky campaign. If we rear animals for food I think it is a basic requirement to make sure they are treated properly and chickens are the front line in this battle."
At the AGM, several of Fearnley-Whittingstall's supporters took turns to ask questions about chicken welfare, prompting a largely elderly audience of frustrated shareholders to boo and start a slow hand clap. "If it's about chickens, can you leave it?" snapped an exasperated chairman, David Reid, after the fourth question about poultry welfare.
This did not deter Fearnley-Whittingstall, though, who said he was encouraged by increased sales of higher-welfare chicken since his campaign started at the beginning of the year and would continue in his attempts to educate consumers about how standard chickens were reared.