He said he would rather British chickens were produced to RSPCA-assured standards over ‘bottom standard’ schemes like Red Tractor.
The celebrity chef made the comments during a repeat episode of Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast in which he said: “I personally would not feed it [Red Tractor chicken] to my kids”.
He added: “I think people would be shocked by the reality of what we are buying.”
Best friend and co-host Jimmy Doherty said whilst some barns had natural light, perches and pecking objects, it was not a requirement and he questioned if the Red Tractor ‘bottom standard’ was high enough.
“The Red Tractor label does guarantee a consistent basic standard for welfare and hygiene so we know our food comes from a trustworthy and safe source,” he said. “But is that minimum standard high enough?
“If you look at Red Tractor, they deal with welfare but they deal with everything from pesticide use to conservation, to health and safety to traceability, so having a bottom standard that covers all of British farming for me is really important.”
The pair then said they would rather British chicken was produced to a ‘higher welfare’ standard ‘with labels such as RSPCA-assured’, which the Jamie Oliver brand has backed since the broadcast.
Red Tractor was quick to hit back at the comments saying the label championed affordable food produced to standards that ‘UK consumers demand and expect’.
It said about 95 per cent of chicken was produced to Red Tractor standards using both indoor and free-range systems, which covered ‘much more than single issue schemes like RSPCA-assured’.
“Our indoor chicken standards are not the ‘bottom rung’ of a welfare ladder, but are actually higher than both UK and EU legislation, and are significantly higher than production standards in other parts of the world, including the USA for example,” Red Tractor said.
“The fact that Red Tractor has a free-range scheme was also ignored.”
But a Jamie Oliver spokesman said whilst Red Tractor played a ‘key role’ in implementing a much-needed broad-based farming standard producing chicken from a trusted source, the brand would continue to recommend RSCPA standards as the minimum welfare for indoor reared meat chickens in the UK.
She said: “This is due to a lower stocking density, the provision of environmental enrichment – RSPCA requires perches, straw bales and pecking objects – and the requirement to use higher welfare breeds of chickens and provide them with natural light.
“We believe this also means that RSPCA chicken tastes better.”