Types of duck
Beak trimming - a terrible mutilation
Size of the UK industry
Duck meat – the low fat choice?
Duck egg industry
References (part one)
Down on the factory farm
Ducks out of water - the cruellest deprivation
Water supply - varying standards
References (part two)
The legal position
The Council of Europe’s Standing Committee
of the European Convention for the Protection of Animals
Kept for Farming Purposes Concerning Ducks, adopted June
1999/2000 welfare regulations
UK code of recommendations
References (part three)
Amount of living space
Food and drink
References (part four)
Varying farm standards
References (part five)
Levels of suffering
Methods of killing
Religious slaughter of ducks
Instantaneous Mechanical Destruction: a hidden horror
Dry plucking machine
References (part six)
Starvation and injury
Diseases of intensification
References (part seven)
Major supermarkets stocking duck meat
Manor Farm Ducklings
Producers of duck meat
Telmara Farms Ltd
The rescued ducks
The Chinese sector - the overlooked trade in duck meat
Mock duck - an alternative
References (part eight)
A shed full of thousands of ducklings with yellow down,
about one week old
A duckling lying disabled on its back, unable to right
A duckling trapped behind machinery with a carcass
Ducklings having difficulty walking and in evident distress
Five weeks later at Cherry Dene Farm, the ducks are about
six and a half weeks old. Their yellow down has been replaced
by white feathers, and their high pitch cheep has changed
to a quack. These ducks would typically face slaughter in
less than a week.
Producers of duck meat
Valley Farms Ltd
Foods Ltd. T/A Manor Farm
Button & Sons Ltd
Rasen, Lincs LN7 6BP
Lee Manor, Thorpe Lee Rd
Norfolk IP26 5HX
Geoffrey Maurice Buchanan
Rd, Debden Green
Waldon, Essex CB11 3LZ
Suffolk IP13 6JW
Thousands of birds are crammed into this shed. Their only
access to water is through their bell drinkers. Viva!'s footage
Dead birds lying amongst the flock
Ducks with filthy feathers and scaly eyes
Ducks dragging themselves along by their wings
Birds with featherless and sore backs
2) Firs Farm (D. Buck site), Hempnall, Norfolk,
UK - Manor Farm Ducklings
The footage shows:
Thousands of birds crammed into a shed
Dead birds littered throughout the shed, some with evident
signs of decomposition; those that were collected have
been left piled up and not disposed of properly
Ducks displaying abnormal behavior, such as 'head wobbling',
and in evident distress
Ducks dragging themselves along by their wings, unable
to support their weight
A duck with a open sore on its rump
A duck unable to balance, which collapses on to the floor
Empty packets of antibiotics left on the shed floor and
not disposed of properly
Many ducks with filthy feathers and scaly eyes
At this farm the ducks were forced to fight for every drop
of water from the nipple drinkers - their only contact with
water. The ducks needed to stretch to get at the drinkers,
meaning that many lame and injured birds would have been
unable to reach them. The floor was wet with slurry and had
evidently not been covered with fresh straw for many days.
We filmed at this site over three nights and then returned
there four months later, conditions had not improved.
Manor Farm Ducklings: The Company
Manor Farm Ducklings, who are based at Ickburgh near Thetford,
in Norfolk, is a business that describes itself as 'one of
Europe's largest producers of white Pekin ducklings' (8),
and currently have a 25 per cent UK market share (16). They
are also involved in geese rearing.
Manor Farm Ducklings has been in business for 50 years and
currently employs over 150 people at its farms, processing
plant and main office headquarters. They have an annual turnover
in excess of £18 million (9). The company went into receivership
in June 2004 following Viva!'s successful campaign (see Viva!'s
Campaign), but was rescued from bankruptcy by 'new financial
The company supplies whole duck and duck portions to a number
of the main supermarkets, recently Marks & Spencer and
Iceland. They also supply NISA, Makro and Pennine Foods,
as well as other domestic retailers via food processors.
They began exporting in 1995 and now export over 20 per cent
of their production abroad to countries such as to Denmark,
France, Germany, Hong Kong and the Netherlands (10). General
Manager Tony Helsby said: "The export market is becoming
increasingly significant to our overall business and, because
of our location in Norfolk, we are ideally positioned to
take advantage of the opportunities overseas, particularly
in Europe." (11) Managing Director John Woodhouse said in
2005: "MFD Foods is taking a fresh new look at the market
for duck. We are supplying precisely what the retail and
food service sectors demand, whether it's stripped or sliced
duck for wraps for the 'light meal' market or 'ready-to-serve'
whole duck or duck meals for the 'quick meal' market - it
really is the definitive range." (17)
Manor Farm have begun rearing ducks to new weights of around
3.0kg to supposedly meet demand from the UK restaurant sector
- particularly the Chinese market - for larger sized whole
ducks and duckling portions.
While the standard weight of ducks sold in the UK supermarkets
is currently 2.4kg, the intensively reared ducklings from
Manor Farm Ducklings are grown to produce whole duck weights
of between 3.6kg to 3.8kg in 49 days. Sales of 2.8kg, 3.0kg
and 3.2kg weight ducks are reported to be increasing at the
fastest rate (12).
The company claims to rear some of its ducklings outside,
and has recently introduced its own brand 'Breckland Free
Range Duckling'. However, the majority of its ducks are still
reared in traditional intensive sheds. The company has its
own farms, but it also sources from independent 'duck growers'
which are 'subject to inspection and stringent controls'.
The millions of table ducklings reared each year at Manor
Farm Ducklings are processed in the company's factory processing
plant in Thetford.
In 2004, Viva! won a major victory when Marks & Spencer
announced they would clear their shelves of factory-farmed
whole duck after we exposed the conditions at Manor Farm
Viva! filmed at Kerry Foods units in 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004
and 2005, where ducks are reared for meat:
A E Button & Sons, Ellingham site, Attleborough,
Norfolk, UK - Kerry Foods
The footage shows:
Several ducks lying, disabled, on their back, left to
Ducks crammed into a shed in their thousands
A dead bird
Ducks with filthy feathers
A duck with a painfully damaged leg walking with great
A duck dragging itself along the ground by its wings
Birds are denied all that is natural - no open space, no
contact with mother; no natural food, no searching through
vegetation, no flying, no pond or river, no dabbling, diving,
playing - no sheer pleasure from being in water, no rain
or wind; no freedom.
Kerry Foods: The Company
Kerry Foods is the consumer food division of the Kerry Group.
The company started in Co. Kerry, Ireland 32 years ago and
is now headquartered in Tralee, Ireland. The Group employs
20,000 people throughout its operations across Europe, North
America, South America, Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific.
Kerry Foods supplies over 10,000 food and food ingredients
products to customers in more than 140 countries worldwide.
The Group has manufacturing facilities in 19 different countries
and international sales offices in 20 countries.
Launched as a public company in 1986, Kerry Group plc has
a current market capitalisation of O3.4billion. Its group
turnover exceeds O4 billion.
Kerry Groups website boasts: 'In ingredient markets Kerry
has grown to become one of the largest and most technologically
advanced manufacturers of speciality ingredients in the world.'
Considering the terribly sad state of the birds in both
turkey and duck units owned by Kerry Foods that Viva! has
filmed, it is laughable that the Kerry Group further states
it has 'a commitment to excellence and total quality' (18).
And that 'a pre-requisite for the production of superior
quality food and ingredients is the assurance of high quality
raw materials produced from efficient, natural, 'environmentally
friendly' farming systems' (18).
Currently the Kerry Foods division spans six categories:
savoury, pig meat, dairy, poultry, home baking and convenience/snack
The Kerry Group has a history of acquiring other companies
and assimilating them. In 1990 they took over AE Button & Sons,
of Diss, Norfolk, who were already an established duck farming
business, and continue to use this name on all own-label
products. AE Button & Sons currently employs 481 people
and in 2002 had an annual turnover in excess of £64 million.
The company also has a subsidiary, Ark Foods Limited (Ark
Foods Ltd, Hemingford Ho/Walcot Rd, Diss, IP22 4DH tel. 01379
87071), which is a poultry wholesaler.
In 1992 Kerry Foods also assimilated the Irish firm, Buxted
'Free-range' and Barbary ducks
Whilst AE Button & Sons (Kerry Foods) continue to factory-farm
millions of ducks every year they have also expanded into
'free-range' duck farming. Since the early 1990s they have
supplied Waitrose with 'free-range' Pekin duckling. Waitrose
claims that: "The ducks have unlimited daytime access to
open pasture. Access may sometimes be limited if the birds'
welfare is thought to be at risk, but only under harsh weather
conditions and only then at the stockman's discretion." (20)
Waitrose also claims that the ducks are stocked in the shed
at Freedom Foods approved densities, with stocking density on
the paddock of around 2.5kg/sqm. However, with a maximum flock size
of just under 4000 birds this is still clearly
intensive farming by anyone's standards.
In 2006, Waitrose became the first supermarket to introduce
outside ponds for all of its own-label ducks, after a lengthy
trial period. This is a major welfare improvement, and one
which other supermarkets will find difficult to justify not
following. Indeed, both M&S and Tesco have announced trials
allowing their own-label ducks access to water for swimming -
although, currently neither allow their ducks access to the
outside. Whilst this move on behalf of Waitrose is
encouraging, it is worth pointing out that their ducks have a
'brooding' period of three weeks before they are allowed
access to swimming water (once their down has been replaced by
feathers). As Waitrose currently slaughters their ducks at the
industry standard seven weeks (49 days), they will only have
access to swimming water for a month of their short lives.
Until January 2005 Waitrose also sold factory farmed
Barbary ducks. These Barbary were are not
'free-range', and did not have access to the outside nor
did they have access to water for swimming - in other words,
they were factory-farmed. Most supermarkets stopped selling
Barbary ducks in light of Viva!'s successful campaign to
end the painful process of de-beaking, Waitrose, however,
until recently continued. They claimed that: "[the Barbary ducks'] ... environment
had been adapted to limit displays of aggressive behaviour" (20),
and so made de-beaking 'unnecessary'. When further pressed
on what this actually meant, Waitrose merely responded that "aggression
is controlled by light" (21). Of course, it is difficult
to ascertain exactly what they meant by this but it is
common practice for some producers to keep poultry at very low
light intensities to discourage activity and maximise growth
rate. Research has shown that this results in inactivity,
which causes increases in lameness and skin diseases and, at
very low levels, the development of eye abnormalities.
Viva! stopped Kerry Foods debeaking ducks in 2000 as part
of its ongoing campaign against the factory farming of ducks.
We filmed at a unit in Suffolk that showed filthy, injured,
bleeding, dying ducks in a packed shed in 1999 (shown on
GMTV). Hillside also filmed ducks at Grange Farm, Redgrave,
UK in 2001 - again showing ducks that are blind, filthy,
have diffulty walking (shown on Anglia TV). In 2005, Viva!
supporters held demonstrations outside over 200 Co-op stores
highlighting the conditions their undercover footage found.
Viva! filmed at a Green Label units in 1999 and 2004, where
ducks are reared for meat:
Viva!'s investigation:Maple Lodge Farm, Witnesham,
nr Tuddenham, Suffolk, UK - Green Label
The footage shows:
Duckling lying, disabled, on her back
Ducks crammed into a shed in their thousands
A duck with an open wound on its wing
Ducks with filthy feathers and crusty eyes
A duck that is so heavy its legs are splayed apart, making
it difficult to walk
Viva! has still photographs of bins full of dead ducklings
outside Maple Lodge farm.
Green Label: The Company
Green Label is a family business with four partners, Maurice
and Miriam Buchanan and their two sons, who began duck production
in April 1989. All units are based in Suffolk, UK, and they
currently employ 127 staff.
They previously farmed broiler chickens but now only intensively
rear ducks (ironically 'Green Label' is supposed to imply
the animals are kept in less intensive conditions).
In the last 10 years the Buchanans have invested over £3
million in their intensive duck business. They rear, kill
and package ducks for Sainsbury's, Iceland and Booths, as
well as UK hotels and restaurants. In 2004 they moved into
producing a line of seven 'convenience' foods for Sainsbury's,
under their 'Taste the Difference' range (19). Sales exceeded
1 million processed birds in 1996 (up from about 29,000 in
1989). The company currently kill around 2.5 million ducks
a year (15).
The centre of the company's operations is at Loomswood Farm,
on the former Debach Airfield, Suffolk where the ducks are
slaughtered, processed and packed. Green Label is the sole
UK producer of the Gressingham duck which is half Mallard
and the Deben duck which is patented to the company, a 'development
of the Gressingham and is quarter Mallard' (7).
The ducklings kept for meat are in sheds - thousands to
a building. They are denied practically all that is natural
- from contact with their mother; to water (other than for
drinking) - no splashing, diving or dabbling for these birds.
Green Label take this concept a step further, proud that
they have added an enzyme into the feed with the aim of reducing
the amount of water each duck needs to drink. This is to
reduce water spillage which can cause ammonia emissions in
intensive units (5).
Green Label Sites
Green Label have an elite breeding farm - here grandparent
stock breed and their offspring go to parent stock farms.
They have four parent (or breeding) stock farms where ducks
produce eggs. The eggs are removed from the parent ducks
and taken to a hatchery. Here, after 28 days, the ducklings
hatch, and at one-day old are moved to rearing units to be
fattened for meat with a high protein dry feed. As with all
intensive units, the ducklings never see their parents.
Some of the existing Green Label sites in Suffolk
Maple Lodge (aka Maple Tree) Farm, Witnesham, nr Tuddenham
- rearing unit for meat birds (120,000 sq ft site), hatchery
and 63 acres of arable land
Loomswood farm, Debach - rearing, slaughter and processing
plant (the site is 300 acres, the farm takes up three acres)
Hadleigh, under contract to Jeremy Thorby - breeding
Gosbeck - rent a breeder site
Northfield Farm (adjacent to Loomswood, Debach) - rearing
ducks for meat (80,000 sq ft site)
Akenham, nr Henley - rent breeding farm for egg production
and rearing of pre-breeder ducklings
Thorp Hall - 130 acres arable
Granted permission for sites in 1999 for:
Elmswell, nr Stowmarket - rearing 9500 ducks for meat
Hillbrow Farm, Clopton Rd, Tuddenham - rearing 46,500
ducks for meat in four buildings, each 102m x 24m and 6.75m
high. (Max. of 11625 ducks per shed) (6).
Refused permission for site in 1999:
Viva! and local groups protested about the application for
a duck farm at Thorp Hall, off the B1078 at Wickham Market.
The proposal was refused permission on grounds that the buildings
and use of site would intrude into the landscape and be detrimental
to the 'visual amenity and quiet enjoyment of this attractive
countryside environment' which is bounded by four public
The Buchanans say their landmarks are:
1981 - purchase of 1130 acres at Thorp Hall, nr Wickham
Market 1983 - additional 12,000 sq ft shed built 1984 - purchase
of 120,000 sq ft of poultry housing and 63 acres arable land
at Maple Tree Farm, Tuddenham 1986 - 80,000 sq ft site at
Northfield Farm, next to Loomswood, and setting up of Maurice
Buchanan Poultry Ltd 1987 - Loomswood Farm extended by further
two sheds 1989 - Began duck production under Green Label
Poultry name 1989-1996 - Processing plant built, given EU
licence in 1991 1990 - Hatchery built at Maple Farm 1992
- Breeding flock at Hadleigh, under contract to Jeremy Thorby
1993 - New duck shed at Northfield Farm of 20,000 sq ft 1994
- Renting of breeding farm at Akenham, nr Henley, for egg
production and rearing of pre-breeder ducklings 1996 - Two
more 20,000 sq ft sheds added to Northfield Farm
They state that there is little waste with ducks and by-products
include liver for pate and hearts and carcasses for pet food.
Items for export include feet and tongues to China and gizzards
Miriam Buchanan said to the East Anglian Daily Times: "When
you go into a shed, they are all alert. Chickens will not
react in the same way. The ducklings perk up and look at
you, they are definitely more inquisitive. We like eating
them as well." (7)
World Poultry magazine states that 'within two
decades Cherry Valley has expanded from simple free-range
duck production in Lincolnshire, East England to a world-wide
breeding, feeding and processing giant'. It is now selling
millions of birds a year (1), and has an annual turnover
in excess of £39 million a year (14). Navis Capital Partners
(Asia) Limited in Malaysia acquired Cherry Valley Farms Limited,
the world's leading Pekin duck breeder, from The Nickerson
Group Rothwell Limited in 2003. Navis also owns the controlling
shares in the Bangkok Ranch Public Company Limited of Thailand
(an integrated duck processor company). The combined company
will be the biggest integrated duck producer outside China.
Cherry Valley rears, kills, processes and markets duck meat
as fresh or frozen oven ready birds or in a range of duckling
based foods; they also sell birds to other companies worldwide.
Ducks from Cherry Valley reach 3.5kg liveweight in 49 days,
when they are slaughtered. It claims a death rate of five
per cent (3) and four per cent (1). At five per cent, this
would mean that almost a million of the 18 million ducklings
sold in the UK per year, die before they even reach seven
weeks (see part seven).
The UK's sales are small compared to other countries'. It
is reckoned that in China, 40 million table ducks per year
come from Cherry Valley's breeding stock.
Cherry Valley's breeding department works on 13 pure lines
of ducks; genetically manipulating them to, for example,
'improve feed conversion for more lean meat' so that different
countries can be provided with ducks with different characteristics
Richard Bird, director of Cherry Valley International Division,
says: "The Cherry Valley duck is now sold and eaten in just
about every country in the world...[we have] an efficient
feed-converter...20 per cent of the eviscerated carcass is
now breast." (1)
In a promotional booklet, Cherry Valley boast that they
are the 'world's largest breeders and producers of ducks'.
The eggs are hatched in nine isolated breeding farms and
then taken to the Cherry Valley hatchery near Rothwell, one
of the biggest duck hatcheries in the world.
According to Cherry Valley literature: 'The eggs spend ten
days in the incubators before being candled to identify and
reject those that are infertile and so ensure efficient utilisation
of the machines. Efficiency is the keynote of the whole hatching
operation at Cherry Valley.
'The enormous investment in genetic and environmental research
at Cherry Valley has involved more experiments during the
past ten years than in the rest of the world put together
and enabled the company to develop an enterprise which is
both the biggest and most intensive of its kind anywhere.....
Both breeding and fattening stock are housed in modern controlled
environment buildings that allow production to continue efficiently
throughout the year. An important economic advantage of the
Cherry Valley system is the saving in labour requirement
which enables as many as 85,000 birds to be looked after
by only one person on some units.'
Cherry Valley boasts 'genetic ingenuity' - 'the direct result
of a scientifically-designed genetic selection programme'
which has meant 'the output of ducklings per female has been
boosted by more than 100 per cent during the past five years,
while the quantity of feed required to produce each day-old
has been more than halved. Moreover, the Cherry Valley table
duckling of today not only grows ten per cent more quickly
than did its predecessor of a few years ago, but it also
contains 25 per cent more breast meat' (2).
The company developed a duck labelled CV2000, and nicknamed
it 'Superduck' because the female produces up to 275 eggs
in a single cycle of 52 weeks. 'Egg size is exceptionally
large and can average over 75 grams. The commercial female
has a target weight at point of lay (20 weeks) of 1.75 kgs'
The company has also developed the 'genetically improved'
Super M3, which Cherry Valley boasts is 'the most efficient
Pekin duck in the world'. Each female breeder is capable
of producing over 241 commercial day-olds. These commercial
ducks are genetically bred to grow fast - 3.5 kgs in 47 days,
with little food - less than 2.28 kgs of feed per kg of liveweight.
The company has even given this type of duck its own tagline:
'The SM3 quality and performance.'
The millions of table ducklings reared each year at Cherry
Valley are processed in the company's factory. Purpose built
in 1977, the factory 'efficiently prepares duckling for the
'A fleet of refrigerated vehicles deliver the oven ducks
to over 25,000 outlets including leading supermarket chains,
freezer centres, butchers and caterers.' (2)
In addition to its UK-based operations, Cherry Valley sell
Pekin duck breeding stock to China; have an office in Singapore
to profit from the major duckling markets of the Far East,
and in EU countries such as West Germany and Denmark, Cherry
Valley has become a major brand in the duckling market (2).
Telmara Farms Ltd
Telmara farm currently produces 130,000 ducks per year (4).
Ducks are killed and processed on farm and whole birds and
portions supplied to wholesale and catering markets.
Ducks are reared at Telmara Farm and two other locations,
both in Great Dunmow, Essex. The first is a rented site and
houses 4500 ducks. At the second site 1500 ducks are reared
in a pole barn from October to May. Telmara Farm gained planning
permission in 1999 to build two intensive duck units off Henham
Rd, Debden Green, Essex. When completed, duck production at
the other two sites will cease.
The two new units will be 45.7m x 18.3 m (150 ft x 60 ft)
giving a floor area of 836 sqm each. Each building will house
3000 ducks; meaning 6000 ducks on site at any one time.
Telmara Farm brings in day-old ducklings. 'There will be a
mixture of slower and faster maturing strains.... The ducklings
will initially be kept confined within rings on bedding consisting
of wood shavings..... When the ducklings are a suitable age,
the rings will be removed and straw put down (on a concrete
floor). The ducks will then be reared to 49 days when a proportion
will be removed for processing at a live weight of about 3.5
kg. The remainder of the ducks will be reared to a maximum
of 56 days and a live weight of about 3.8 kg' (4) There will
be five to five and a half cycles a year.
After the removal of ducks the 90 tonnes of dirty litter is
removed (per batch) and used as agricultural fertiliser. The
whole site is washed and disinfected and the cycle starts again.
The owner estimates that around 200 ducklings will die in each
batch of 6000, before slaughter.
As usual, the ducks have no access to water, except in bell
The rescued ducks
Two farmed ducklings which were given to Viva! exhibit entirely
different behaviour to intensively reared birds, when given
the opportunity to fulfil their instincts. Footage shows both
week-old ducklings spending most of their time dabbling their
beaks in a water bowl - every few seconds going back to it.
Within a couple of weeks, the ducks, now named Jake and Jasmine,
were moved outside during the day. Their yellow down barely
covered their stubby wings and they cheeped constantly. Their
first day outside was one of pure joy for them. Jake climbed
straight into the washing-up bowl of water and bathed, splashed
and drank to his heart's content. Jasmine paced around the
bowl before climbing in with him.
They soon started to explore the garden with most attention
on the overgrown parts, rooting through the grass for grubs.
After a couple of weeks, they were introduced to a giant-size
paddling pool with a ramp. They had never swum before and they
treated it with some trepidation - but not for long! Footage
shows they now love water. They rush around in the pool; diving;
playing; shaking their tail and wings - it is an essential
and clearly pleasurable part of their lives. (They have now
been moved to a sanctuary with ponds.)
The Chinese sector - the overlooked trade in duck
Whilst duck is increasingly promoted in UK supermarkets there
remains a huge trade in duck meat products in Chinese, and
increasingly Pan Asian, restaurants.
Studies have shown that three out of five people in Britain
say that Chinese is their favourite food (22). It is worth
around £700 million a year in sales in the UK alone (23), with
109 million Chinese meals served here yearly (25).
Chinese restaurants are especially popular in the UK. The
first opened in London in 1908, by 2002 there were 3215 (a
figure that increases to 4875 when counting those that also
operate as a takeaway) (24), nearly half of these are located
in London and the South East. The most popular dish in British
Chinese restaurants is 'Crispy Duck' (24), whilst a survey
for the BBC2 series, 'The Nation's Favourite Food', claimed
that 'Crispy Duck' came only third behind Fish and Chips and
Pizza, in the UK's top five takeaways (in front of Chicken
Tikka Masala and Sweet and Sour Chicken) (26).
Because of its perceived 'exotic' nature, most consumers of
duck meat products in restaurants and take-aways are even more
removed from the reality of modern duck meat production than
many consumers in supermarkets. Whilst some duck for the restaurant
trade is imported from abroad most of it comes from the same
factory farms that supply the main supermarkets in the UK.
At the forefront of this wholesale trade to Chinese Restaurants
in the UK is intensive duck producer, Cherry Valley (see pages
44 to 46) which claims that more than half the company's production
is marketed to the Chinese restaurant trade. The company boasts
in one of its press releases:
'Cherry Valley, with over 40 years experience, is the leading
brand of duckling in the Chinese catering sector. The company
has a long standing reputation for quality and consistency
among Chinese wholesalers, distributors and chefs throughout
the UK based on understanding the needs of the Chinese caterer.
'With unrivalled catering experience and a highly skilled
team of development technologists and consultant chefs Cherry
Valley continues to develop and launch innovative duckling
products throughout the branded and independent restaurant
'The product portfolio from Cherry Valley includes: Gold Standard
A Grade Duckling, Honey Roast Half Lincolnshire Duckling, Frozen
Raw Duck Breast Fillet, Steamed Duckling Breast Fillet & Orange
Sauce, Sliced Meats, Chinese Boneless Roast Duck, Whole Peking
Roasted Duck and Peking Duck Starter Kits.' (30)
Silver Hill Foods, based in Emyvale, Co. Monaghan, is Ireland's
largest intensive duckling producer. They also claim to be
' ... favoured brand of duckling among the Chinese communities
of Ireland, United Kingdom and throughout Europe.' (32)
Also, MFD Foods (previously Manor Farm Ducklings) admit that
the bulk of their business is now with the wholesalers and
not with retailers (38).
Most of the other major duck producers also aim a good proportion
of their products squarely at the wholesale and restaurant
Like most meat-based 'fast food' it is not only a disaster
for animals, but also for our health. Whilst many traditional
Chinese meals are low in fat, the 'Crispy Duck' we are likely
to be served in the UK is a bastardised version of the 'real'
thing - concocted merely to appeal to the British palate
(25). While in China duck is traditionally cooked by grilling
and baking over charcoal, the common practice in British
restaurants is to deep fry the duck meat (28), and, as it
is usually served with its skin - often the fattiest part
- intact, its calorie content skyrockets and cholesterol
content goes through the roof (29). Crispy Chinese style
duck contains around one-quarter fat by weight, with up to
a third of that fat being the harmful, saturated kind (31)
which raises blood cholesterol increasing the risk of heart
disease and stroke. Incredibly, Chinese style duck has the
same fat value (weight for weight) as a deep fried Mars Bar
(35, 36)! And a typical serving of it can pack in as many
as 400 calories in just two filled pancakes (27).
Mock duck - an alternative
But perhaps equally concerning is its high animal protein
content. A wealth of research links animal protein to increased
risk of osteoporosis, kidney damage, heart disease and increased
production of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor
(IGF-1) - which is thought to boost the growth of cancer
cells (33, 34). However, there is a much healthier alternative.
Many Chinese supermarkets sell 'mock duck' (along with many
other varieties of mock meats), which contains no animal
protein, is much lower in fat, weight-for-weight (only 4.1g
compared with the 24.2g typically found in crispy duck) -
and is free of cholesterol. Mock duck is usually made from
wheat gluten (called seitan in the States), which, whilst
not suitable for people who are gluten intolerant, is a high-quality
protein providing B vitamins and iron (37). It is believed
to have originated from China and is also often used as part
of the cuisines of other East and Southeast Asian nations,
as it is a versatile and nutritious meat substitute. Also,
many Chinese restaurants have good vegetarian menus offering
healthier vegetable and pulse based options.
References (part eight)
Dunn, N. Integrated Duck Production for 80 Countries. World
Poultry - Elsevier, 14:12, 1998
Cherry Valley Farms, Promotional booklet, undated
Cherry Valley Super M2 Information, Cherry Valley Farms
Application by Mr C Patmore, Telmara Farm, for site off
Henham Rd, Debden Green to Uttlesford District Council for
erection of two duck houses made on 19/3/99
Planning application for Thorp Hall, Wickham Market: C99/0341
to Suffolk Coastal District Council, considered 6 July 1999
Planning application for Hillbrow farm, Clopton Rd, Tuddenham,
Suffolk: Application C99/0463 to Suffolk Coastal District
Council, considered 1999
Hopper, P. East Anglian Daily Times. 19 October 1996
Advertisement Feature, Norwich Advertiser. 5 March 2004
Manor Farm Ducklings (names Paul Ruthven as first financial
director) (Brief Article), Eurofood, 30 August 2001
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News update 2001. Manor Farm Ducklings website
Ducks are Getting Bigger, Meat & Poultry News, 13 February
Cherry Valley Farms, web site. http://www.cherryvalley.co.uk
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Green Label Foods Step Up Production. Green Label press
MFD Look For Bigger Market Share With New MD. 3 February
Ducks re-launch. 7 January 2005 http://www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/news/fullstory.ph
It's No Spring Chicken, Green Label Press Release, 2004
Email from Brett Greaves, Waitrose Customer Services, April
Email from Debbie Gale, Waitrose Customer Services, March
McCance and Widdowson's The Composition of Foods (Sixth
Summary Edition) Food Standards Agency. 2002
Campbell T. C. and Campbell T. M. II. The China Study:
The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted
and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and
Long-Term Health. Dallas, Texas, USA: BenBella Books. 2004
Walsh Steven PhD. Plant Base Nutrition and Health. Vegan
McCance and Widdowson's The Composition of Foods (Sixth
Summary Edition) Food Standards Agency. 2002 (comparison
of 100g servings)