Labels on intensively farmed meat and dairy products often use words and pictures that suggest the animals have lived good, free lives. But do they tell the truth about factory farming, transport and slaughter?
Using language such as 'Farm Fresh' and 'Quality Assured', labels often show photos of farms or farmers standing in rolling countryside. All of these may be used to mask the truth about factory farming.
Food labels should clearly distinguish higher welfare products from intensively farmed food – often packaged to give the impression it comes from animals living free-range lives.
OneKind is supporting the Labelling Matters campaign in Europe and the UK to prove that European Union food labelling laws are unfit for purpose, and to demand changes to EU laws.
The Labelling Matters website is now live - with UK and Czech text, and French to follow soon and carries a statement of support from OneKind on the Supporters page.
The EU Animal Welfare Strategy 2012-15 recognises that consumers are not always well informed about today’s farming methods and their impact on the welfare of animals. It emphasises the EU’s intention to increase transparency and the provision of adequate information - empowering consumers to make informed choices in order that the market can drive further improvements in farm animal welfare.
Currently the Commission is considering whether to propose a legislative framework for animal welfare in 2014. If it does, the proposed framework will provide the structure through which the Commission intends to deliver its strategy. As part of the framework the Commission is considering extending mandatory method of production labelling, which already exists for shell eggs, to meat and dairy products. 'Information for consumers' and 'outcome-based assessments' are two of the four key axes around which the Commission plans to build its framework.
We are pleased the Commission has included mandatory method of production labelling as an option for the 2014 framework. However, we are concerned that the Commission does not regard this as its preferred option. In our view, method of production labelling is the best way to give consumers the information they need, and allow them to make informed choices.
At the beginning of the project, Labelling Matters set out to show just how confusing food labels could be. We would like to say a big thank you to all OneKind supporters who helped us track down misleading labels.
A detailed consumer survey is now underway, seeking the opinions of thousands of consumers about existing labels, recognition of the EU egg labelling scheme, and the appetite for seeing the scheme extended to meat and dairy products.
Further supporter actions are in the pipeline – watch this space!