Activists descend on Lidl following ‘deception’ over ‘horror’ animal abuse

Lidl Protest in Glasgow Open Cages
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Activists from campaign group Open Cages protested outside 30 Lidl stores across the UK following the release of animal abuse footage. The images were recorded by a whistleblower from a Birchwood farm. The farm allegedly provides chickens to the supermarket brand, but Lidl has denied this – a source of further controversy given recent “indisputable evidence” which shows otherwise.

The leaked video can be viewed here. Viewers should be aware it contains disturbing images of animal abuse.

‘Crushed to death’ for being in the way

Protesters gathered at 30 Lidl stores on Saturday 8 July. These included locations in London, Bristol, and Glasgow:

Lidl Protest Glasgow Open Cages

Bristol Lidl Protest Open Cages

A press release from Open Cages said:

From Penzance to Glasgow, Lidl faces the ire of animal welfare groups fighting to improve the welfare of the 1.2 billion chickens farmed for meat each year in the UK. The latest claim and counterclaim in the battle revolves around recent undercover footage passed onto Open Cages showing poor welfare standards and illegal cruelty on a chicken farm linked with Lidl. The footage shows:

Read on...

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  • Chickens being run over and crushed to death. Workers admitted on camera that the abuse is routine and ‘part of the job.’
  • Major welfare problems. Lame, dying and deformed birds are filmed being tossed like waste into wheelbarrows.
  • The farm manager confirmed that the chickens ‘go to Lidl.’

According to Open Cages, “Lidl originally denied any involvement with the supplier”. However, the group said that “indisputable evidence has since emerged” which proves that Birchwood farm chickens, owned by the 2 Sisters Food Group, were on sale at branches of the supermarket as recently as June 2023. Below is one such example:

Open Cages explained on its campaign website that the packaging contains the slaughterhouse identification “GB 2037”, which corresponds to a facility owned by 2 Sisters.

The group added that:

Lidl also lists the supplier in its own internal documents which were discovered by campaigners. Lidl is being accused of ‘deception’ as well as tolerating animal cruelty.

‘Retailers like Lidl are not telling the truth’

Tom Herok is the whistleblower who recorded the undercover footage. He joined protesters outside Lidl’s Tottenham Court Road branch in London:

Lidl Open Cages protest London

He told Open Cages:

I’m protesting because retailers like Lidl are not telling the truth. I worked in one of Lidl’s chicken supplier farms for 2 months last year, and I saw things I wouldn’t want anybody to see – birds who were clearly run over simply because they got in the way of a forklift – dying and deformed birds tossed aside like rubbish – I don’t know how Lidl cannot be moved by these images.

The group is now challenging Lidl to “sign up to the Better Chicken Commitment, an accepted improved welfare standard for the chicken industry backed by the RSPCA and supported by the UK government“. Other retailers and food businesses signed up to it include:

  • Marks & Spencer.
  • Waitrose.
  • KFC.
  • Subway.

According to Open Cages, Lidl has “signed up to the commitment” in France, “but not in any other country it operates in”. The group argued that “signing up to the welfare standard would alleviate many of the welfare problems witnessed by Tom”.

The ‘horror’ for chickens under Lidl farms

CEO & co-founder of Open Cages Connor Jackson said:

Tom’s footage reveals the true horror of life on one of Lidl’s chicken supplier farms – it has got to be seen to be believed. Naively, I hoped Lidl might put their hands up and admit that things need to change. Instead, I was shocked by such blatant deception about an issue that we Brits care deeply about. As the largest retailer of chicken in Europe, Lidl’s lack of accountability and the abuse of these animals has got to stop.”

In June, Lidl responded to the allegations, saying:

The farm and supplier in question does not supply Lidl. We take animal welfare extremely seriously and have long been committed to increasing welfare and traceability standards throughout our supply chain.

At the same time, Jackson commented:

Lidl claims to have cut ties with this farm. But that won’t solve the problem. These are the exact, ruthlessly intensive, and poor conditions on practically all Lidl chicken supplier farms because that’s what Lidl demands in its own policies. That’s why we have seen identical scenes of animal suffering in Lidl’s chicken supply chain all across the UK and the world, regardless of the company or region. This will continue behind the scenes until Lidl adopts Better Chicken Commitment standards.

Featured image via James Chapelard – Open Cages, and additional images via Chapelard, Colin Moody, and Dan Phelan

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