The European Parliament agriculture committee has recommended toughening a proposed European Union (EU) directive on farmed chicken welfare standards, although it has accepted the law’s suggested overall stocking density minimum of 30 kg/m2 per unit.

MEPs called for the law to ban outright beak-trimming and the castration of male chickens. It also called for national regulators to stage unannounced spot-checks and have powers to order stocking density reductions. And it wants harmonised penalties regarding infringements.

The committee proposed a common chicken meat labelling system, indicating origin, production standards and stocking density. For this farming proposal, however, EU ministers can ignore the parliament, which is merely being consulted.