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Drug Testing For Chickens Shows No 'Fowl Play'

Random drug testing of NZ chickens has not shown any trace of added growth hormones. The facts are: it is illegal to use hormonal growth promotants in NZ broiler chickens; there are no hormonal growth promotants licensed for use in poultry production in NZ; and hormonal growth promotants have never been used in poultry meat production in NZ*. Despite this, indications are that just 16% of New Zealanders know that our chickens have no added hormones.

Consequently, Tegel is launching a high profile campaign to dispel the myth that chickens are fed hormones, following a CM Research survey which revealed that 74% of people would be more inclined to buy chicken if they thought no hormones were added.

The Tegel campaign will include TV advertising and more prominent on-pack labelling to show consumers that chickens are not fed hormones.

Peter Lucas, Tegel Food's Managing Director, says "We can guarantee that our chickens don't contain added hormones, but you don't have to take our word for it. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has a comprehensive residue-testing programme for New Zealand broiler chicken. If a product fails, companies are breaking the law, as it's illegal to give chickens growth hormones. We believe it's in the public's best interest to know that our product has never tested positive for added hormones since testing began."

To verify the misconceptions found in the CM Research survey, Tegel conducted its own survey and were alarmed at the results.

Tegel discovered that 84% of the people surveyed believe or are uncertain as to whether NZ chickens are fed hormones. Mr Lucas said that consumers' perception of what happens to chickens as they grow is far from the truth.

Says Mr Lucas, "Our research has clearly shown that people's belief that hormones are added to chickens is largely developed through word of mouth. They cannot believe that a broiler chicken can naturally grow so quickly. The fact is that careful breeding and provision of good food and good growing conditions, along with strict biosecurity and animal health and welfare practices ensure optimum growth rates and healthy birds."

MAF has also confirmed that no residues of anabolic substances (such as steroids, stilbenes or beta agonists) have ever been identified in chickens under the annual chemical residue monitoring programme they operate in collaboration with the poultry meat industry. MAF conducts random tests on broiler chicken throughout New Zealand and operates to rigid standards.

* Source: Poultry Industry Association of New Zealand (Inc).


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