Djurens Rätt
Anna Harenius

Anna Harenius

Sakkunnig20 April 2023fler nyheter

The National Agency for Public Procurement’s new criterion – reduce the use of fast growing chickens

Since last autumn, the Swedish National Agency for Public Procurement has worked towards new criteria for public procurement of chicken meat. The freshly published results include a criterion for healthier chicken breeds, in line with European Chicken Commitment. Djurens Rätt welcomes the development and its potential to reduce the suffering in chicken factory farms.

Municipalities and other stakeholders in the public sector in Sweden, can apply certain animal welfare-based requirements at procurement of animal products for school canteens etcetera. They have the National Agency for Public Procurement’s sustainability criteria to guide them. During 2022 and 2023 the national agency has worked on updating the criteria on chicken- and turkey meat, and Djurens Rätt has been part of the advisory group.

In the new criteria, published this week, several of the suggestions Djurens Rätt made are included. For example the opportunity to procure meat from healthier chicken breeds in accordance with European Chicken Commitment (ECC), and by that excluding meat from fast growing chickens. 

– Djurens Rätt is of course very happy that our participation in the advisory group has led to positive outcomes for chickens. Facilitating municipalities and regions to reject the use of fast growing chickens will reduce suffering at large. It is important to simultaneously reduce consumption of chicken meat in order to strengthen the protection of animals in the long term, said Camilla Bergvall, President of Djurens Rätt.

Using sustainability criteria in public procurement is not mandatory, but many municipalities that Djurens Rätt are in contact with have been asking for more opportunities to set requirements on the chicken industry through their purchases. The previous criteria did not go further than the Swedish animal welfare legislation, except for the criteria on organic production. The new criteria will now increase the possibilities to set requirements allowing chickens to have better lives. 

The fast growing chicken breeds that are used in Swedish factory farms have more health problems and a higher mortality than the slower growing breeds. It has been shown for example in material that Djurens Rätt got from an anonymous source and published, and recent scientific opinions from the EU.

General comments from Djurens Rätt:

● The opportunity to prioritize  chicken welfare through the new criteria on breeds with limited growth rate is most welcome. This will enable a reduced demand for “turbokycklingar” (fast growing chickens) and an increased demand for ECC-chickens. If meat from chicken producers complying with ECC is sourced, additional requirements promoting chicken welfare will be included in the bargain.

● A suggestion to add a criterion outdoor access (free range) was made by Djurens Rätt, but it wasn’t put forward in the final publication. Djurens Rätt is disappointed about this, because the requirement for outdoor access will continue to be limited to organic production only.

● Calling chicken meat “meat” in the new criteria, and not “chicken” as before, is an improvement. To distinguish between the living animals and what their dead bodies are used for is an important step. This has already been done for the criteria for pig meat.

● The new criterion on competence at animal transport is an improvement, and Djurens Rätt succeeded in getting this criterion on the “core” level instead of “advanced”. Djurens Rätt did suggest another criterion, on advanced level, for shorter transport time and careful loading of chickens, but it was not put forward in the final publication.

● It is in the new criteria more transparent that antibiotics (coccidiostats) are used in the feed even in the criterias that restrict the use of other antibiotics.   

● Djurens Rätt believes that there is a need for a new criterion limiting the stocking density for both chickens and turkeys.

● Djurens Rätt would have wished for a new criterion on enrichment, giving chickens and turkeys access to at least some elevated platforms and pecking substrates,  increasing their possibility to behave naturally.

● Djurens Rätt would have wished for a new criterion on pre-slaughter stunning so that procurers can choose not to support the risky water bath stunning. Now the option is limited to simply demand stunning before slaughter, not what type of stunning to be used. 

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