Campaigners say supermarkets have misled customers with the “horrible” conditions in which their chickens are raised and shut down social media comments about the welfare of the birds.
Morrisons is said to have blocked emails from executives to its chief executive, while co-workers told callers – incorrectly – that the chain’s chicken was all free-range.
An Asta worker said a petition initiated by Chris Bagg and supported by the RSPCA was a “fraud”.
The TV naturalist has now challenged Morrisons to allow the chickens to be filmed inside a stable barn to reveal their “hellish” life, warning that they are subject to “extreme suffering”.
In the letter seen The Independent, Sent on Friday, Bagkum writes: “It shocks me that a British name like Morrisons does not care so much about animal welfare.”
Last month, the TV presenter made his debut Petition It calls on supermarkets to “stop selling misery” and accept the best chicken commitment pledged to the highest welfare standards.
It was organized with Human League UK, Open Cages, Animal Equality UK and RSPCA.
Animal-welfare organizations advertised the petition online, and staff and volunteers said supermarket customer service groups asked about their poultry welfare and received a variety of incorrect responses.
Some callers even reported that the supermarket staff had hung themselves.
Of the 12 calls for co-op, in eight cases, employees said all of their chicken was free-range or free of cruelty, or met with excellent chicken confirmation.
The co-op website claims that all of its chicken is British and meets Red Tractor standards, but does not say it is a free limit.
An Asta representative mistakenly told a supporter that Bagam’s petition was a “fraud”.
Morrisons removed the comment feature from its Facebook page, blocked Twitter comments and blocked emails to its chief executive, campaigners said as supporters began to put pressure on the supermarket.
The Human League said: “Instead of engaging meaningfully with these comments, Morrisons completely disabled comments on their main Facebook page and deleted all comments on their Morrisons jobs page. They took over their Morrisons Market Kitchen Facebook page, which is now back.
“They have restricted comments on their main Twitter account, and they have disabled comments on their main Instagram account.”
In 2015, when CEO David Potts joined, he said: “My goal is to listen as hard as I can to customers and staff.”
In at least 39 cases, supermarket employees refused to provide information on how they raised their chickens.
Springwatch Host Baghdad said: “This is a blatant attempt to silence the right criticism from genuine customers about Morrison’s adequate animal welfare policies. Chickens and customers have an obligation to Morrisons – what does it say about them when they close comments? “
Hannah Yates of the Human League said some supermarket responses were “outrageous”: “We understand that customer service representatives are not at fault here, but that the responsibility lies with headquarters to ensure they spread the right information.”
In a letter to Mr. Pots, Baggs wrote: “The use of fast-growing frankincense and the congested conditions in which they are raised naturally cause great distress to these birds. I have been shown the expression of your supplier companies, which I was very sad to see. “
He said the living and dying conditions of the chickens were “hell”.
“It shocks me that an iconic British name like Morrisons doesn’t care so much about animal welfare. Unfortunately to date your company has ignored calls from scientists and animal advocacy charities, urging you to sign the Best Chicken Pledge to address this atrocity.”
Badak asked not to be notified inside a supplier shed to document the lives and deaths of the supermarket chickens.
“I think consumers have a right to know how these animals actually live,” he wrote.
Birds called “Frankensigens” by animal-rights organizations are bred to grow exceptionally fast to maximum weight, thus being unable to cope with their fragile legs and limbs, which can even lead to broken bones and heart attacks.
The best chicken dedication is to use fast-growing breeds and not have crowded conditions.
A Co-operative spokesperson said: “As a leading ethical retailer, caring for the animals in our care and overall animal welfare is a priority for us, our customers and members. They are overseen by the cooperative’s own dedicated poultry farming group.
“Our free-range chicken meets the best chicken commitment standards and we are committed to reviewing these limits to meet the needs of our shopkeepers.”
Chain said the customer call center was reminded of the company’s official response to animal welfare.
An Asta spokesman said: “We are always focused on providing customers with the best quality products to suit all budgets, which is why we offer the new 100 percent British chicken bred to accredited industry standards such as Red Tractor and RSPCA Assured, organic and free-range.
“In order to make high quality chicken more affordable for our customers, we are also making significant price investments in our standard free-distance deck. This investment will be supported by retail products and key on-pack labeling so customers can make informed choices about what they are buying.”
The Independent Asked Morrisons to respond, but did not ask prior to release.