Westbridge Food Group, the company named in a Guardian exposé on added water in frozen chicken, has defended the practice and said it ensured chicken stayed affordable.

On Friday, The Guardian claimed some British supermarkets were selling frozen chicken breasts that were almost one fifth water and additives. It singled out Westbridge Food Group as a supplier that was “tumbling” chicken to add water and water-binding additives, and questioned the legality of the process.

In a statement, Westbridge said it had no reason or evidence to believe any of its processes or products fell foul of any regulations. “Our technical team assess and review our products and processes, and take advice to ensure compliance.” Adding water to chicken breast ensured a consistent and moist eating quality, providing a “high-quality alternative to chilled chicken breast at typically less than half the price”.

It also provided a “consistently economic source of protein” that gave consumers “a choice to enjoy a high-quality alternative to chilled chicken breast, at typically less than half the price of the chilled alternative,” it added. The Guardian article claimed few consumers were aware they were paying for “large quantities” of water in their meat and calculated they were paying the equivalent of about 65p/kg for water as a result of adding water. In its response, Westbridge said: “The fact is that there is a cost to this process, and using an added water calculation to determine the value of the product is misleading and is creating unnecessary doubt in the mind of consumers who rely on being able to trust the products that we provide to be good value, food-safe and enjoyable.”

Despite concerns over the process of tumbling, It is not illegal to sell chicken with added water so long as it is declared on pack.