A recent Guardian exposé about the widespread campylobacter contamination in the poultry industry may shock and surprise some of you. I’m afraid we have been all too aware for far too long of the shocking state of the UK poultry industry. It’s an industry full of dirty secrets, and unsurprisingly yet another food scandal has erupted.
Recent reports have revealed that two-thirds of chicken meat in the UK is contaminated with a bacteria called campylobacter, which is responsible for over 280,000 cases of food poisoning each year and an estimated 100 deaths. This costs our NHS a whopping 900 million pounds a year to treat, a huge deficit in the already stretched 3.3bn budget.
It feels like only five minutes since the papers were full of the frightening news that horse meat had found its way into your supermarket ready meals and burgers. How many more times are we going to be forced to confront the dangers lurking in the food industry until someone with real power and influence will stand up for us?
Irresponsibility is endemic to the food industry, which cuts corners to generate profit at the expense of proper hygiene regulation, animal welfare and human health. The problem is these factories are so highly geared that if one small thing goes wrong on the production line it has a huge impact on the profit generated each day. With supermarkets constantly squeezing the life out everyone in the food chain it is no surprise that these big boys forgo health and welfare in order to hit their hourly, daily and weekly targets. It’s absurd and only too evident in the two factories featured by Guardian journalists.
Pipers Farm was born 30 years ago as an antidote to the mainstream meat industry. Peter and Henri Greig spotted very early on in their farming lives that the demand to produce unhealthy, poisonous, inhumane meat was only going to grow. The demand for huge quantities of cheap food was the driving force behind the supermarkets major marketing campaigns. The ability to produce faster, more and cheaper food was where they knew they would make real money, suckering in punters with Buy-One-Get-One-Free offers and whole chickens for as little as £2.89 apiece.
Some may say what we do is idealism, that it's not suitable to sustain the growing UK population. We disagree. It’s our true belief and passion for producing, healthy, sustainable food that gets us up in the morning. To be quite frank with you all, it’s sometimes incredibly tough and there are days that feel like they are never ending when we sit back exhausted and sometimes overwhelmed at the task ahead. No matter what we keep going, we keep working hard to produce meat that has been grown with respect, not just for our amazing livestock, but for you, our customers.
What is the solution? For us, it’s spreading the message that there are other options open to consumers. That’s why we are absolutely totally transparent in showing you, our customers, exactly how your meat has been produced. We encourage you to ask questions about where your food comes from, don’t just accept what’s written on the label.
We all need to reconsider the real value of food, not just the price point but also the health and nutritional value of what we are eating and what we are willing to sacrifice to hit that price point. We need to get realistic about what is very evidently going on behind closed doors.
We need to ask ourselves:
What is the true cost of the food that we eat?
Can we eat less meat, and pay a fairer price?
Can we eat meat which has been produced by someone who values the welfare of their animals as well as our health?
Say no to industrial farming and choose #betterchicken