Farming News - RSPCA urges public to call for clear labelling on animal products

RSPCA urges public to call for clear labelling on animal products

Last month, the UK Government announced it was launching an eight-week consultation into clearer labels on how pork, chicken and eggs are produced in order to provide the public with transparency over the food they buy. 


Now there are just three weeks left to respond and have your say on this vital issue.


The RSPCA has campaigned for method of production labelling on animal products for years. They hope giving this greater transparency to consumers will empower them to buy higher welfare products and ultimately improve farm animal welfare standards.


The charity is urging the public to have their say and respond to the consultation by demanding clearer labelling. Mandatory labelling indicating how an animal has been reared isn't currently required on animal products in the food industry making it hard to make an informed choice on the supermarket aisles.


David Bowles, Head of Public Affairs at the RSPCA, said: "We all want to think that farm animals have a good life and no one wants to unwittingly contribute to low animal welfare and support practices that they don't agree with. But currently, the poor labelling of food products means people lack the information to know what they're buying.

"The public has a right to clear and consistent labelling so they can make an informed choice about the products they buy.


"Packets with images of animals surrounded by rolling green hills have misled the public for too long when the reality for some of these animals looks very different. It's made it increasingly difficult for consumers to ensure they are buying higher welfare when labels are often confusing and misleading."


Many millions of animals are farmed in the UK and the lives of these animals, and the conditions they experience, can vary greatly. A survey carried out by the RSPCA last year found that more than four out of five people (81%) think having a level of knowledge about the condition the animals have been reared and kept in is important when purchasing products, and 79% of people believe that they can improve animal welfare through their purchasing habits. 


David added: "By having clear labelling on products, the public can make an informed choice and we hope that this will see interest and demand for higher welfare products increase, which will in turn drive up farm animal welfare standards here in the UK. This is vital if we are to achieve a more sustainable, welfare-focused farming future where intensive farming and outdated practices such as hens and sows in cages become a thing of the past."


Currently, method of production labelling is only available on shell eggs with terms such as 'free-range', 'barn' or 'caged hens' now becoming important indicators for consumers on which eggs to buy. Since this was introduced in 2004, there has been an increase in sales of cage-free eggs from around 30% up to 60% of products sold.


David added: "Consumer buying behaviour with eggs proves that, given the choice, the public want to purchase higher welfare food and we're pleased that this consultation will widen the scope of egg labelling to processed foods containing eggs as an ingredient and not just shell eggs, as it currently stands."


The consultation will also focus on a product's country of origin at a time when free trade agreements which don't prioritise animal welfare risk lower welfare imports arriving on supermarket shelves.


David added: "Greater transparency about these products will be a lifeline to hardworking, higher welfare British farmers who are at risk of being undercut by cheap, low welfare imported products.


"We urge the public to have their say in this consultation and help make mandatory animal welfare labelling a reality."

To respond to the consultation visit: