Documentary review: Supermarket Secrets 1

Supermarket Secrets 1
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The stranglehold of Supermarkets is changing the way we eat as well as the way we shop. This documentary ‘Dispatches. Supermarket  Secrets 1′ looks at the price we pay for cheap and convenient food.

Jane Moore compares now starts by looking back at the 1950s when Chicken was an extra special treat. Even in a more recent past we are eating four times as many chickens as thirty years ago. In 1970, 200 million a year but by 2004, 850 million a year.

Chickens are big business and are produced using factory farms. The talk is of ‘growing’ chickens. Chicken rearing is an industrial process. Ross 308 is  the favourite type as it  fattens quickly. It can grow in 42 days reaching maturity in half time of 50s chickens.

The programme shows that animal suffering is one price that to pay. The horrific undercover footage from a farm in Norfolk is distressing.  This factory farm supplies Grampian Country Food group which in turn supplies the big supermarkets.

Donald Broom, Professor of Animal Welfare Cambridge University, explains part of the  problem is  with the  legs of the chickens as weight is added too quickly and they are unable to support it.  This leads to trampling and falling into contact with their own urine.  Prof. Broom shows that hockburns caused by the ammonia in the urine are visible on many chickens bought from supermarkets. In an earlier scientific survey Prof. Broom found 82 per cent of chickens bought from the major supermarkets had  hockburn –  the tell-tale brown round mark found on the scaly part of the  leg.

Supermarket Secrets 1 also questions the quality of the meat produced. Traditional butcher John Chadwick looks at some of the meat bought from supermarkets. He identifies ASDA passing off cutlets as loin chops (loin chops should have a  t-bone) and the fact that  Tesco add preservatives to pork chops and fat from another animal to their topside rump. A jury of 12 people blind taste meat from a traditional butcher and from the more expensive supermarket ranges.  The results are conclusive. In every test the meat from the traditional butcher is rated more highly.

Top Chef Raymond Blanc takes us through an ‘autopsy’ of a supermarket chicken showing its abnormal growth and comparing it to a free-range chicken.

This documentary will make you think about the food supply chain and whether you are getting such a good bargain at your local supermarket. It shows that for a lower price you must accept animal suffering and poorer quality. Are you prepared to pay this price?

Reviewed by Patrick Harrington

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