Red Tractor is not 'a cast-iron assurance'

Rowen West-Henzell Food policy manager, Compassion in World Farming

Sir; Chris Brown, head of sustainable sourcing at Asda, is missing the point. Asda should know the Red Tractor logo does not offer a 'cast-iron assurance' to consumers on animal welfare (Letters, The Grocer, 13 October, p22). Under Red Tractor rules, chickens can be fast-growing, increasing the risk of painful leg disorders and heart failure, as well as food restriction and severe hunger in breeder birds. They can be housed in sheds that are too crowded, increasing the risk of hock burns and unhealthy levels of air pollution. Chickens sold at £2 are unlikely to have had any outdoor access and, in short, their living conditions are often a far cry from what Brown's customers probably expect. Compassion in World Farming believes that offering chickens at such low prices is unethical - for the birds and for Asda's customers. If Asda was prepared to take a loss on factory-farmed chickens, why can't it do the same on free-range birds and offer its customers ethical food for low prices?