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7. August, 2014

39Days4Rosa: Campaigning chicken on 39-day EU tour

Free-range farmer tours Europe in a chicken suit, calling for honest labelling: For 39 days, from August 1st, Tamsin French, a broiler farmer’s daughter from Devon, UK, has been touring the European Union dressed as a chicken called ‘Rosa’.

She has visited 21 Member States, creating headlines in every nation, calling for honest labelling of poultrymeat. On Monday September 8th, at 5pm, ‘Rosa’ will arrive at Place du Luxembourg, Brussels. During a special finale event, she will present a letter, signed by 80,000 EU citizens, to Pavel Poc MEP, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Animal Welfare Intergroup.

‘Rosa’ is calling for clear, mandatory method of production labelling of poultrymeat. She wants consumers to be able to answer the simple question, 'How was this chicken kept?' Her tour can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

Thirty-nine days is the average lifespan of an intensively farmed meat chicken. Around 90% of meat chickens reared in the EU are from intensive indoor systems. These chickens have little or no opportunity to display their natural behaviour.

Ms French said: “Our free range chickens live for fifty-six days, and from the moment they’re old enough to go outside they can range through tree covered, landscaped fields where they can express natural habitual behaviour. It’s important that consumers can accurately and easily identify the farm system used to rear their chickenmeat. The labelling term ‘free range’ accurately reflects the life of our free range chickens.”

The European Commission is reviewing poultrymeat labelling this summer – ‘Rosa’ wants them to deliver honest, mandatory labelling for European consumers. Research shows that Rosa’s mission is supported by most people in Europe. 1 Eight out of ten European Union consumers support mandatory method of production labelling of poultrymeat.

Ms French is joined by two colleagues: Johanna Olsson, an Animal Science student from Berkshire, and Sam White, an animal welfare campaigner from Essex.

Ms French said: “Method of production labelling already exists for shell eggs. It means consumers can tell which farm system was used to produce the eggs they buy and has been a huge factor in driving the dramatic increase in the number of cage-free egg-laying hens across Europe. 2

“The European Commission has recognised that mandatory labelling gives producers the opportunity to differentiate on price and earn a better, fairer living. I want to see this type of labelling extended to chickenmeat – because clear, comparable, point of sale information is essential for higher welfare markets to grow.”

In 2012, the European Commission promised consumers better information about farm animal welfare. Mandatory labelling of poultrymeat would deliver this, and requires just one simple rule change. 3

Rosa’s gruelling 39 day tour can be followed on Twitter (@39Days4Rosa, #39Days4Rosa) and Facebook (39Days4Rosa). The tour has been supported by consumers and animal welfare groups across Europe.