Tesco has defended its decision to sell factory farmed chicken, following criticism from celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Fearnley-Whittingstall has tabled a resolution to force the company to either withdraw its claims that it supports animal welfare or to adopt minimum standards set by the RSPCA.

The resolution reportedly has the backing of more than 100 investors, and Tesco said that once it has received the appropriate amount of support the resolution will be circulated to shareholders at the company’s AGM next month.

However, Tesco defended its stance on animal welfare.

“We are confident that any chicken sold at Tesco – whether intensively reared or free range – meets the highest welfare standards. We are the only major supermarket to carry out independent farm inspections over and above industry standard audits and we have offered and promoted free range and organic alternatives for years to enable customers to make an informed choice,” a spokesperson for the company told just-food.

“We have also recently introduced Willow Farm chicken, which is a more affordable welfare friendly option.  However for many of our customers buying standard birds is the only way they can afford to keep chicken as part of their family’s diet – especially in the current economic climate – and we have a duty to continue providing them with good quality affordable food which they don’t need to feel guilty about eating,” the company concluded.