POULTRY sector leaders have described their ‘frustration’ at proposals to cut maximum transport times for broiler journeys and impose strict outside temperature limits.
Both the NFU and British Poultry Council have said elements of the new regulations would present significant challenges to the sector.
Limiting transport times (excluding loading and unloading) to four hours and only allowing journeys to take place if the outside temperature is between 5C-25C are of particular concern.
NFU poultry board chairman Tom Wornham said the exclusion of loading and unloading times in limits had been one positive change.
“This was absolutely crucial for our broiler members as the original proposals would not have been viable and could have led to unintended consequences, such as hurried handling and driving in order to meet unworkable deadlines.”
But despite this, the four-hour limit would still cause disruption, Mr Wornham added.
“There are a limited number of poultry processing facilities in the UK and the proposed journey limit of four hours will still cause disruption to broiler producers and processors.
There are also currently no contingency plans for instance, such as disruption to processing plants, that may make four-hour journey times unviable.
We have recently seen the impact COVID-19 can still have on processing plants, and we feel there needs to be contingencies factored into these journey times.
Mr Wornham described the proposed temperature limits as ‘completely unworkable’.
“This proposal could force the whole industry down the route of thermoregulated vehicles, which would require enormous investment and would take years for the industry to implement.
“Much more detail is needed in relation to this, and it is disappointing that the government has not done a full impact assessment.”
The BPC’s Richard Griffiths said the proposals appeared to “lean more towards ideologies as opposed to the practicalities of welfare in transport”.
‘Two-tier food system’
Domestic transport proposals specifically will create a difficult environment for British poultry producers to operate in.
“The result of these proposals, if brought into legislation, will see a reduction in fresh British poultry meat in retail and foodservice.
“Sales will be lost completely or replaced with imports not necessarily produced to British welfare standards, creating a two-tier food system in which only the affluent will be able to afford to eat British.
“We look forward to working with the government in the autumn on the proposed changes to develop science-based welfare outcomes that will demonstrate an improvement in bird welfare during transport.”