Consumers wanted mandatory food labels that explained the farm system used to produce food, revealed the research commissioned by Compassion in World Farming, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), the Soil Association and the World Society for the Protection of Animals.
A further 79% of shoppers said farm animal welfare was important when deciding which food products to buy.
A joint statement from the organisations claimed the UK government was opposed to labelling meat and dairy products by method of production and was “pushing the European Commission to keep consumers in the dark about where their food actually comes from”.
Helen Browning, chief executive of the Soil Association, 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.”
‘Fairer for consumers’
Method of production labelling would offer shoppers more choice, she said. “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.”
Julia Wrathall, RSPCA head of farm animals, complained that, at present, it was difficult for consumers to choose higher welfare products. “So many meat and dairy labels use misleading language and images to suggest good welfare even when the animals have been reared in standard intensive systems.
“As we have seen with eggs, consumers have the power to drive improvements in farm systems, but they can only do this if there is honest, comparable information on products they buy.”
Check out choice
• 83% of consumers wanted production labelling for all meat and dairy products
• 79% of respondents said animal welfare as very important or quite important when selecting meat and dairy products
• 73% of respondents thought that method of production labelling terms, like those which exist for eggs, definitely or usually provided clear information for them to make an informed choice
• 88% agreed strongly or slightly that they would be happy to see more information on food packaging if they felt the information was useful to them
Source: Labelling Matters research