Coles cashes in on chicken myth; responding to consumer perceptions rather than leading

An Australian supermarket campaign promoting hormone-free chicken has been called dodgy by a leading consumer watchdog.

In-the-better-late-than-never category, Australians are finally speaking out about a Coles Supermarkets advertising promo that markets fear rather than food safety.

According to industry groups and consumer watchdog Choice the supermarket giant is trying to capitalize on the urban myth that chickens are given hormones to speed growth.

Adding hormones to Australian poultry was outlawed in the early 1960s but the myth of pumped-up chickens has persisted, said Dr Andreas Dubs, the executive director of the Australian Chicken Meat Federation.

Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn said,

"You can’t have hormone-free chicken unless there are chickens that are pumped up on hormones. I think it’s a little dodgy. It’s true, but it’s like saying it’s plutonium-free or cyanide-free because it’s suggesting that anything that doesn’t have that label on it might have that."

A Coles spokesman said the supermarket was just countering the myth.

"Chicken in Australia has not been treated with hormones for over 40 years. However, there is still a widespread misconception among customers that they do. In fact in July last year, chicken producer Steggles commissioned a Newspoll study among 1000 people that showed that 76 per cent still believed that hormones and/or steroids were used in chicken production."

So why isn’t Coles leading the formation of public perception instead of blindly following? Because there’s a buck to be made.