Steggles chooks ‘roam’ 19 to square metre

WHEN discussing their chooks, owners of iconic Australian brand Steggles described their poultry as being "free to roam". Unfortunately they were only able to roam in a small area crammed in with up to 18 other chickens.

Baiada Poultry and Bartter Enterprises was slammed by the ACCC yesterday for "false, misleading and deceptive conduct" when describing their products.

Baiada appealed an earlier ruling against it, after refusing to back down from its claim that its chickens were able to roam in those conditions. The ruling also brought in key poultry lobby group, the Australian Chicken Meat Federation, which also described Australian chickens as able to "roam freely" in barns.

The ACMF declined to discuss the matter. The ACCC found Steggles often packed between 17 and 19 chickens per square metre in its barns, giving each chicken an area roughly the size of an A4 piece of paper.

The chicken giant supplies poultry to Australia's biggest fast-food chains including KFC, Red Rooster, Nando's, Subway, Pizza Hut and McDonald's.

Baiada Poultry declined to discuss the decision aside from a statement released by a spokesman.

In it, Baiada stated the ACCC did not refer to the welfare of chickens in its findings.

Baiada also claimed the treatment of its birds was also within industry standards.

The explanation from Baiada and Steggles did little to satisfy animal welfare campaigners who emphasised the need for honesty from suppliers so buyers could make informed choices. A spokesman for the World Society for the Protection of Animals said companies must "walk the walk" to protect animals.

By doing that, they are more likely to keep consumers happy, he said.

Baiada Poultry, Bartter Enterprises and the ACMF will return to court on July 12 where they will find out about penalties to be imposed.

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