UK consumers want method-of-production labelling

Eighty-three per cent of UK consumers want method-of-production labelling on meat and dairy, despite the government being opposed to the initiative.

The new research, published this week, which is the most comprehensive research on animal welfare-related food labelling in Europe, showed the importance of knowing which farm system has been used for the produce consumers buy.

The research was commissioned by Labelling Matters, a joint project between Compassion in World Farming, the RSPCA, the Soil Association and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).

Chief executive of the Soil Association Helen Browning said: “Clear, honest labelling of meat and dairy produce is crucial if the European Commission is to make good on its ambition for the market to drive improvements in farm animal welfare. Method-of-production labelling is not about telling people what to buy – it’s about giving them a straightforward choice.”

The research further showed that 79% of consumers stated the importance of animal welfare when deciding which food to buy.

In the EU eggs in shells are legally required to be sold with method-of-production labelling, a law that came into force in 2004. Since this was implemented, the number of cage-free systems have increased drastically.

“The best products for welfare, including organic, are often already labelled. But until the rest are too, consumers are left to hope or assume that everything else on the shelf was produced just as humanely. Making clear the reality – for example that around 90% of chickens and pigs reared for meat in the EU are housed in intensive systems– is fairer for consumers and for those farmers working to higher welfare standards,” added Browning.

Head of farm animals at the RSPCA Julia Wrathall said: “Despite clear method-of-production labelling of eggs and new EU legislation to label fish by method of catch, consumers are still kept in the dark about the farm systems used to produce the vast majority of their meat and dairy products.”

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