Further reasons to despise TV Chefs

TV Chefs again not just happy to eat and cook corpses, but getting involved in promoting the meat industry.


TV chef Phil Vickery has launched a national recipe challenge on behalf of the British turkey industry. The campaign is set to encourage people to eat more turkey and to try different cooking methods, such as barbecuing.

Vickery, a regular on BBC2’s Ready Steady Cook and ITV’s This Morning, said: “Not many people think about turkey at this time of year – and they certainly don’t think about barbecuing. But hopefully we will get the message across that British turkey is not just for Christmas. It is extremely versatile and is a great, healthy choice for the family all year round.”

By the way, here is a previous quote from the fellow [source];

ITV’s This Morning chef, Phil Vickery said: “Although turkey is served on Christmas day I also like to roast a joint of beef in case some guests prefer beef (a lot of my family do, my father especially). If you roast a forerib of beef on Christmas day, then slices of cold beef are perfect for Boxing Day lunch. Failing that, a good old-fashioned roast beef and Yorkshire pudding on Boxing Day is a perfect way to entertain. The sight and cooking smells of a joint of beef when people arrive is a real joy, and one I love personally.”

The campaign brings together three sporting celebrities – rugby hero Matt Dawson, champion jockey Frankie Dettori and tennis star and TV presenter Annabel Croft – plus three TV chefs – Lesley Waters, Paul Rankin and Nick Nairn – and invites consumers to vote on which of them has created the best British turkey recipe.

British Turkey spokesperson, Kim Burgess, said: “We are also challenging consumers who think they can do better to send in their own original British turkey recipes.

“The campaign will give us exposure all through the year and we are planning to compile the best recipes into a book with profits going to the children’s charity SPARKS.

“We have raised almost £25,000 for SPARKS over the last four years and we are hoping this will provide another boost to this wonderful charity.”

The recipe challenge will centre on turkey’s status as one of the 14 original “superfoods” identified by Dr Steven Pratt.

Burgess said: “Turkey is the only meat in the line-up and earns its place as one of the healthiest forms of protein on the planet.

“We will also be hammering home the message that British turkey is extremely versatile, easy to cook and, of course, tasty.

“Turkey manufacturers are developing a fast-growing range of portioned and convenience products with al fresco and barbecue eating in mind.

“And thanks to the great support from retailers and butchers, these are now widely available for consumers under our all-important Quality British Turkey mark. This guarantees the turkey from British producers is of the highest standard – which is a vital consideration for a growing number of consumers.”



Turkeys are intensively reared for their meat. Traditionally, turkeys were mainly reared for the Christmas market but today they are produced throughout the year. Nearly 35 million turkeys were slaughtered in the UK in 1992, about 16½ million of which are for Christmas.

Given the opportunity, turkeys will range widely eating vegetation, seeds and grains. Wild turkeys can fly strongly and roost high in trees. They are more closely related to game birds such as pheasants and partridges than to chickens.

Turkey Production

Turkeys are generally kept either in large, windowless broiler sheds or in pole barns which are netted on one side and have natural light and ventilation. A small number of turkeys are produced free-range.

Broiler sheds contain flocks of around 10,000 birds housed on litter (usually wood shavings). Stocking density is high at around 260cm² per kg of bird and as the birds grow and approach slaughter age they become increasingly tightly packed. The litter is not changed during the turkeys time in the shed and so becomes increasingly covered in the birds faeces. Turkeys do not scratch around in the litter in the way that chickens will and this means the condition of the litter deteriorates more quickly. Artificial lighting and ventilation is carefully controlled. Lighting intensity is low to minimise aggression between birds.

Turkeys reared in pole barns are less densely stocked, stocking density being recommended as around 410cm² per kg of bird. Natural lighting combined with a large flock size and overcrowding encourages aggression and cannibalism and this can result in considerable losses. Because of this debeaking is widely regarded as essential and it is likely that all turkeys reared in pole barns are debeaked.

Pole barns are often not purpose built for rearing birds and bad ventilation, draughts, exposure and heat stress can all cause problems.

Turkeys are slaughtered at between 12 and 26 weeks, depending on the size of bird being produced. The natural lifespan of a turkey is around 10 years.

Welfare and Disease

Estimates for the numbers of turkeys which suffer debeaking vary between 20% and 80% and it is likely that the true figure lies somewhere between these. Debeaking is more common for turkeys kept in pole barns than those reared in broiler sheds where aggression can be minimised by dim lighting.

Debeaking involves slicing off about one-third of the beak with a red hot blade when the turkey is around five days old (breeders may be debeaked again at 14 to 18 weeks). This can be extremely painful for the bird and studies on debeaked chickens have shown pain to be prolonged and perhaps indefinite.

Even following debeaking intensively stocked turkeys may peck at one another. Eye injuries are a particular problem and can lead to infection and blindness.

Male turkeys may sometimes also be desnooded soon after hatching. The snood is the part of the turkey’s wattle arising from the forehead and lying over the upper beak. Desnooding may occur to reduce the risk of cannibalism in intensively stocked turkeys.

>Selective breeding for rapid weight gain and the use of high nutrient feed has meant that many turkeys, especially males, are unable to support their own weight. This can lead to problems of lameness and infections of leg and hip joints.

Lameness may also be the result of foot ulceration caused by turkeys having to stand on wet, dirty litter.

Other common diseases affecting intensively reared turkeys include colisepticaemia, blackhead (which damages the liver), turkey rhinotracheitis (TRT) and pasteurella infection which causes a commonly fatal respiratory disease. Turkeys are also often infected with salmonella which has implications for public health.

Mortality for turkeys is estimated at 7% or nearly 2 1/2 million birds. Many of these deaths are young birds unable to find feed and water points. These are called starve-outs.

Transport and Slaughter

The catching and transport of turkeys prior to slaughter can cause the birds considerable distress. Turkeys are considerably larger and stronger than chickens and can be nervous and easily frightened. Catchers are often less familiar with handling turkeys and many birds may be injured whilst being removed from sheds or barns and thrust into crates. Poor handling frequently results in bruising, skin grazing and broken blood vessels.

Transport to slaughter may be some distance and the birds may be exposed to extreme weather conditions.

On reaching the slaughterhouse, turkeys are removed from their crates and hung upside down in shackles on a moving line. Turkeys may legally hang shackled for up to six minutes before being stunned and this time is probably frequently exceeded. Turkeys can weigh anything from 5 to 28 kg (12 to 60 lbs) at slaughter and the pain caused to heavy birds whilst they hang in shackles must be considerable. This pain will be worsened by the fact that many of the birds and especially the larger ones will suffer from diseased hip joints.

Stunning involves the birds having their head and neck dragged through an electrically charged water bath. A study by the Agriculture & Food Research Council (AFRC) Institute of Food Research in Bristol found an incidence of 26% of pre-stun shocks which occurred when either birds wings trailed in the water bath before their heads or the ramp leading to the water bath became electrically charged.

Some birds may be stunned using hand-held stunners instead. These may be used in smaller slaughterhouses which specialise in Traditional Farm Fresh turkeys for the Christmas market (turkeys hung for up to 15 days without evisceration following slaughter). These stunners are less likely to induce cardiac arrest and so birds may be fully conscious when their necks are cut.

Following stunning, the birds have their throats cut before entering a scalding tank which loosens the feathers for plucking. The AFRC study found that 0.1% of birds were still alive on entering the scalding tank. This means around 35,000 turkeys enter the scalding tank alive each year.

Breeding Stock

Turkeys reared for meat are hatched from eggs laid by special breeding stock. Male breeders (called stags) have been selectively bred for size and are now too broad-breasted and heavy to mate naturally. Because of this turkey breeding is dependent on artificial insemination (AI). AI also means that turkeys can be reliably produced in the right numbers when required.

Breeding stock are kept in single sex pens. Males are kept in flocks of 30-50 birds at a stocking density of 1m² per bird. Hens are kept in larger flocks at a density of 345cm per kg of bird.

AI completely frustrates the natural mating instincts of turkeys and is distressing for both males and hens. Male turkeys are milked of semen at least once a week and the hens inseminated using a length of tubing inserted into the birds vagina.

Once the birds are past their peak of semen or egg production they are slaughtered and made into pies, pâtés and other processed foods.

Because of their large size lameness is a considerable problem in male breeding turkeys. Lameness often involves disease of the hip joints, called antitrochanteric degeneration. Studies have shown over 90% of male breeding turkeys suffering degenerative hip disease at slaughter and it is a major cause of mortality, lame turkeys often having to be culled.


A special beefburger recipe devised for the Guild of Q Butchers by celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson will soon be available to Q butchers throughout the UK to sell in their shops.

Guild members are now gearing up to make and promote the beefburger which contains a secret blend of spices, seasonings, chives and parsley selected by Worrall Thompson.

The promotion is backed up by posters, tray tickets and local publicity.

The burger has already won a gold medal in the Guild’s South of England BBQ Championships and is arriving just in time for this year’s barbecue season.

A Guild of Q spokesman said: “Through the auspices of member Joe Collier of Eastwoods of Berkhamsted, the Guild has a very good relationship with Antony and it is an indication of the standing of Q butchers that he has taken the time to come up with this special recipe.

cattle slaughter

“We now have an exclusive product for members to promote and we are sure consumers will look forward to sampling the AWT Burger.”

Joe Collier and David Smith of ingredient supplier Sauce It, who are corporate members of the Guild, liaised with Antony Worrall Thompson on the development of the burger recipe.


And of course this bloke – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – for promoting the idea that eating meat is some sort of kindly benevolent exercise as long as you do the murdering yourself.

“You can kill a lamb or a mutton wether at any time, but personally I favour late spring and late autumn. In the autumn I will kill either a mutton wether of around eighteen to twenty months or a large lamb of six to eight months, and in spring a wether of just over a year (once it’s had a couple of months of good grass).”

lamb pre-dead

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