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By John Glenday, Reporter

September 2, 2019 | 2 min read

A damning chicken farm exposé by Open Cages has united British vets and animal welfare specialists in condemnation of Tesco with a demand that chief exec Dave Lewis take immediate action to end ‘painful’ intensive farming practices.

In an open letter condemning the supermarket chain, 25 specialists including TV presenter Chris Packham and former UK government deputy chief veterinary officer Dr Alick Simmons contend that an announcement by Tesco that it would introduce ‘affordable’ welfare standards was inadequate.

The outrage was sparked by the use of the fast-growing production method - ‘Franken Chicken’ - in which birds can struggle to stand under their own weight. The farming process leads to overcrowding issues, with chickens allocated space equivalent to a single A4 sheet of paper - leading to skin burns caused by being forced to sit in their own waste.

Such intensive conditions make ill health common, particularly in the form of lameness, cardiovascular disease and premature death.

Discussing the open letter, Open Cages' chief exec Connor Jackson said: “Tesco’s claims of ‘high standards’ are crumbling. The suffering in our footage is clear, and the experts agree: cheap chicken is riddled with cruelty."

He added: "With this letter, Tesco has an opportunity to charge ahead and address chicken welfare with the experts behind them. So let’s see if they take that opportunity. Let’s see if animal welfare is on their agenda.”

Under pressure supermarket rivals Marks & Spencer and Waitrose have already committed to mandating higher space standards.

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