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EU Commission Recognizes Plight of Fast-Growing Chickens for Meat

Following an Animal Equality complaint, the European Commission has agreed to evaluate whether the breeding of "fast-growing" chickens violates European law.
March 7, 2023
Bird,Chicken,Beak,Feather,Comb,Fowl,farmed animal

“Fast-growing” chickens, which are selectively bred for their ever-increasing volume of breasts and thighs, are profitable animals for the chicken meat industry. Their unnatural and accelerated growth often hampers their mobility, blood circulation, and ability to breathe, condemning them to severe suffering and a two-month lifespan on average. 

That is why Animal Equality stepped in and petitioned the European Parliament to end the exploitation of these genetically selected animals. This petition was accepted by the European Parliament, which then asked the EU Commission for its comments on the matter.

“Fast-growing” Chickens A Violation of European Law?

In 2022, Animal Equality filed a complaint alleging that the European Commission’s 27 member states violated Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty, which recognizes animals as “sentient beings” capable of experiencing pain, as well as European Directive 98/58/EC. 

European government bodies have since responded to Animal Equality’s complaints regarding the breeding of fast-growing chickens, thereby acknowledging its disastrous consequences for animals. 

The Commission is aware that the current animal welfare legislation needs to be updated to take into account latest scientific evidence, to clarify current provisions and to strengthen rules in view of ensuring a higher level of animal welfare in the EU.

Response by the European Parliament

The Commission agreed to evaluate the practice during its review of farmed animal welfare legislation due in 2023, but its decision on the matter hinges largely on the scientific opinion of the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority). So far, the EFSA has acknowledged the association between genetic selection and a decreased quality of life for these farmed animals. 

It is clear that the European Commission is well aware that the farming of this type of chicken has serious consequences, which, in our opinion, are contrary to European laws protecting animal welfare. This is why it is necessary to put an end to the exploitation of ‘fast-growing’ chickens, which are condemned from birth to be prisoners of their own bodies for the profit of the meat industry.

–Matteo Cupi, Vice President for Animal Equality, Europe

Since 2010, the EFSA has also produced studies that point to the negative consequences of rapid weight gain on chickens’ health. These studies explicitly linked excessive growth and skeletal disorders in chickens raised for meat. 

These studies align with Animal Equality’s 2019 to 2022 undercover investigation in Northern Italy, which uncovered fast-growing breeds rendered immobile and left to slowly die beside their already-deceased companions. 

Many of these injured or immobile animals were unable to access their food or water, their legs splayed outward beside them and their skin burned by their own urine. 

While these findings are not unique to European countries, they emphasize the urgent need for government evaluations and regulations. 

The Worldwide Plight of Farmed Animals

While a successful intervention depends on the European Commission’s investigations, Animal Equality and its team of supporters remain optimistic. The Commission has shown itself to be proactive regarding animal welfare, which is desperately needed in light of today’s factory farming practices. 

Animal Equality plans to send its observations and materials to the European Parliament and will continue to monitor the situation for breaking developments. Regardless of the outcome, Animal Equality will continue to campaign until European law is properly enforced. 

In the meantime, you can speak up for the 9 billion chickens who are bred and killed each year on US soil. 

99% of these chickens are raised in unsanitary, confined, or abusive factory farms and bred to grow as quickly as possible. They spend their entire lives indoors, unable to experience sunlight or breathe fresh air simply because companies wish to minimize costs. 

You can send a message to politicians and lawmakers in the United States that you will not support this cruelty by signing Animal Equality’s petition to end factory farming. 

By demanding institutions remain attentive, ambitious, and courageous in light of animal suffering, you can usher in a future where animals are respected and protected. 

Shifting Attitudes With Plant-Based Foods

While policy changes and government interventions take time to implement, you can immediately spare animals from suffering by leaving them off your plate. 

Cruelty-free recipes, tips, and tricks are more accessible than ever, while meat, dairy, and egg alternatives stock the shelves of most grocery store chains. Don’t wait to get started; you can be their voice today. 

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