Where does the meat in your sandwich come from?

Posted on 20/05/2019 by Daniela Valla
in the Animals in farming blog

It’s British Sandwich Week and new research from Eating Better shows meat sandwiches may contain a surprise...

Sandwiches are an iconic staple of the British diet: last year we bought an incredible 4bn ready-made sandwiches. For 76% of consumers, buying lunch out is an everyday occasion. Now, that's a lot of sandwiches!

"Mystery" meat

Although plant-based options have increased in the past few years, the vast majority of sandwiches sold in the UK still contains meat, fish or cheese as the main ingredient. Chicken is the most popular filling: 43,000 tonnes of chicken meat end up in pre-packaged sandwiches every year - that's equivalent to over 69 million chickens. But where does all this meat come from?

The survey conducted by Eating Better looked at the sources for the ingredients in 620 high street sandwiches. Out of all the meat-based sandwiches they investigated, a worrying 33% contained meat from "unknown origins" and only 2 had a better meat certification.

The truth behind factory-farmed meat

The lack of clear labeling on the sandwiches not only prevents shoppers from making informed choices prioritizing high-welfare meat, but it could also mean that consumers are unknowingly buying factory-farmed meat. The horrors animals suffer every day in factory farming include:

  • Factory-farmed chickens are bred to grow so quickly, their legs cannot support their own weight. Many meat chickens live in a space smaller than an A4 piece of paper. By the time they’re ready for slaughter, there’s barely space for them to move.
  • These intense farming conditions are a breeding ground for bacteria and disease, so animals (particularly pigs) are pumped with antibiotics to fight infections. These antibiotics are entering our food chain and contributing to the rise of superbugs.
  • Our research has shown tens of thousands of cows in the UK suffer in factory dairy farms and never get to go outside. Poor labelling on dairy products means we can’t know if factory-farmed dairy products are in our food.

We believe that it’s essential that more high-welfare meat is made available on the UK market and that clear labelling should show the welfare of the animals. Click here to find out more about our work improving the lives of animals in farming.

What you can do to help

  • Eat less meat: reducing your meat intake will not only benefit your health, but you'll also take a huge step in helping combat the current climate crisis.
  • Eat better meat: purchasing higher-welfare meat supports businesses that make efforts to give animals a life worth living.