Animal rights activists target Lidl for allowing chickens to “live lives of misery”

A week of activism that started with flyers left in a Manchester Lidl has culminated in a protest outside Lidl HQ in London.

Lidl shoppers in Manchester were greeted by flyers earlier this week inviting them to “meet the man behind chicken misery”, two days before a planned protest.

The flyers feature an image of CEO Ryan McDonnell, claiming he is avoiding progress on animal welfare and “cannot be trusted to do the right thing”.

The activist organisation behind the flyers – The Humane League UK – joined charity Open Cages today to stage a protest outside Lidl’s Tolworth HQ wearing hazmat suits and declaring the area a “danger zone”.

This is the latest action in a long-running campaign ran by the Open Wing Alliance urging Lidl to stop what they claim are cruel practices, and to commit to the Better Chicken Commitment.

Speaking on the campaign, Managing Director of The Open Wing Alliance Sean Gifford said: “While we are hopeful Lidl will do the right thing by its customers, and the chickens in its care, it has not yet signed up to the Better Chicken Commitment.

“This is an urgent animal welfare crisis which needs immediate attention.”

The Open Wing Alliance says it has had over a dozen meetings with Lidl over their animal welfare policies, and while The Humane League UK has stopped further distribution of leaflets, The Open Wing Alliance is “continuing with our campaign informing the public of the horrific conditions under which these animals are bred and raised”.

The leaflets produced to encourage action from the company’s customers featured a QR code leading to a petition with over 47,000 signatures pleading with the organisation to “stop selling suffering”.

Left throughout the Manchester Piccadilly Gardens store, the flyers make several claims about the lack of care taken by the supermarket giant, stating 70 million chickens are “bred to suffer” and “slaughtered at just 35 days old”.

The claims made on the petition page however are even more disturbing.

Featured on the page are a number of videos and images described as the result of “undercover investigations into Lidl chicken farms.”

The videos have been uploaded to YouTube by animal charity The Humane League UK, which seeks to end the abuse of animals raised for food.

Listed on the petition website are several allegations of cruelty throughout Lidl supplier farms across the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and Austria alongside alleged lab test results from the birds.

Information also urges Lidl to sign the Better Chicken Commitment – “the leading set of standards for broiler welfare driving the food industry towards higher welfare practices.”

The website states over 200 food companies have committed so far, including Compass Group, Marks & Spencer, Kraft Heinz, KFC and Accor.

Lidl International said it is “continually improving animal welfare standards”, and added: “In the UK, all fresh chicken supplied to Lidl GB complies with nationally recognised third-party standards, including Red Tractor Assured, RSPCA certification and Soil Association Organic. Additionally, Lidl GB’s free-range RSPCA Assured chicken meets and exceeds the requirements of the Better Chicken Commitment.

“We fully support the goals of Open Wing Alliance and its members in improving animal welfare standards in poultry farming and continue to have an open dialogue with them following extensive and constructive discussions, with the latest meeting taking place just last week.

“In all our efforts for improvement, however, we want to keep our promises and therefore only set ourselves goals that are fundamentally and realistically achievable. To fully meet the requirements of the European Chicken Commitment by 2026, sector-wide collaboration from market leaders across the industry is required.”

Featured image credit: @sammivegan

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