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Chicken’s health and sustainability under scrutiny

AN ALLIANCE of organisations dedicated to cutting meat and dairy consumption in half by 2030 has released a new report criticising the health and sustainability record of poultrymeat.

Eating Better, which comprises more than 60 member organisations including Compassion In World Farming, said increasing poultry consumption came with “real and sometimes hidden costs”.

It highlighted that poultrymeat overtook red meat as the most consumed animal protein in 2017, and now accounts for more than half the meat eaten in the UK every year.

The group says that up to 60% of the three million tonnes of soy imported every year to the UK is used in the poultry industry – and half of that total is not certified deforestation-free.

It also says the fat content of chicken meat has increased from 8.6g of fat per 100g in 1970 to 22.8g of fat in 2004, arguing it is less healthy than is often perceived.

The report also cites lower iron and Omega-3 content in modern chicken, compared with its historical counterpart.

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, whichis part of the consortium said: “We know that for human and planetary health we should all be eating less and better meat and more plants, yet our chicken consumption has been increasing as a substitute for red meat.

“We need to get the message out that chickens today have over twice the amount of fat of chickens consumed in 1970 and have fewer essential nutrients, they are not the answer.”


And Martin Lines, UK chair of the Nature Friendly Farming Network said: “As we see the public being encouraged to move from red meat to white meat we must look closely at the environmental and climate footprint of the animal feed inputs coming from around the world.”

The British Poultry Council was approached for comment.