Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Co-op cruelty to ducks provokes local protests

Local campaigners expose shocking conditions on duck farms supplying the Co-op

Release date: 
Thursday, May 19, 2005

Campaigners carrying banners saying "Cruelty at the Co-op' and "No Water, No Life', will be protesting and distributing leaflets outside a local branch of the Co-op this Saturday, May 21st. They will be urging customers not to buy duck meat.

As part of a National Day of Action organised by animal campaign group Viva!, Co-op customers will be shown how one of Britain's favourite birds is now reared. Viva! will reveal the squalid, cramped and filthy factory-farm conditions in which ducks are kept by Kerry Foods (AE Button & Sons), and MFD Foods, the current and former duck meat suppliers to the Co-op.

Sir Paul McCartney, Kate Ford (Coronation Street's Tracy Barlow), Amanda Holden, Joanna Lumley, Martin Shaw, Jenny Seagrove and Benjamin Zephaniah have all joined our campaign in defence of ducks.

Undercover filming by Viva! at Kerry Foods and MFD Foods revealed distressing scenes of neglect and suffering. Investigators found: ducks crammed into dirty, stinking sheds in their thousands; many incapable of walking, dragging themselves along by their wings; countless birds thrashing around on their backs in distress, unable to right themselves; filthy feathers, infections and sores; and dying and dejected birds surrounded by corpses. These aquatic birds have no water in which to swim, which is against Council of Europe recommendations. All this despite the Co-op claiming to be an "ethical' retailer.

18 million ducks are slaughtered in the UK each year " almost all reared in factory farms. Lack of water prevents them from fulfilling their most fundamental needs, and as a result, they can suffer from dirty, disheveled feathers, eye infections and even blindness.
Viva! campaigner, Justin Kerswell, says: "Most consumers have no idea that duck meat comes from birds reared in overcrowded factory farms. These beautiful creatures spend their miserable, seven-week existence in filthy conditions and never have the opportunity to swim or splash around in water. People are shocked to learn that the Co-op - a supposedly ethical supermarket - sells ducks from these prison-like conditions. Our investigation uncovered terrible scenes of suffering and neglect.

'sadly, most ducks are reared like this so we are urging people to boycott duck meat entirely and opt for a healthy veggie meal instead. And we are urging the Co-op to set Britain's favourite bird free by ending the sale of all factory-farmed duck meat.'

Sir Paul McCartney agrees, saying: "Once again Viva! exposes a new horror. I defy anyone with the smallest amount of compassion to look at the facts and not be upset by them.'

Star of TV's Judge John Deed, Jenny Seagrove, says "No fair trade for ducks in the Co-op - it's time to put the ethics back into your retailing! Save these beautiful creatures from a life of misery and early death. Say no to factory farmed duck.'

Popular poet, Benjamin Zephaniah, says, "Co-op or 'cop-out'' Prove your ethical mettle, Co-op, clear the shelves of factory farmed ducks immediately!'

Joanna Lumley makes an appeal to consumers: "The cruelty of modern farming has to end - and you have the power to do it. Don't buy meat from these diseased and dejected creatures'.

Martin Shaw adds: "One of the most moving things I"Ve ever seen was rescued factory-farmed ducks being allowed to swim. They were ecstatic. Please support Viva!'s duck campaign'.

Kate Ford says: "Millions of ducks are imprisoned on factory farms. They need Viva! and Viva! needs you. Please help stop the cruelty!'

Notes for editors
More information about Viva!'s investigations and still images of duck factory-farming contact Justin Kerswell on 0117 944 1000 or email justin@viva.org.uk

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