Tell us how meat and dairy are produced: consumers

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union, Milk, Meat

Check out choice: over 80% of shoppers want food labels that explain how meat and dairy products were produced
Check out choice: over 80% of shoppers want food labels that explain how meat and dairy products were produced
More than 80% of shoppers want food labels that tell them how meat and dairy products were produced, according to new research commissioned by an alliance of pressure groups.

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

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4 comments

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Thank you Ffinlo Costain

Posted by Anne Kasica,

Thank you for the links. From fig 14 in the report it seems that my suspicions were correct and that animal welfare comes way down the list. Which is even more interesting as people were asked to choose not just one but the three most important influences on their choice of which foods to buy.

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More information and direct link to research

Posted by ffinlo Costain,

Anne Kasica - You can read the whole research report on the Labelling Matters website: http://www.labellingmatters.org/

The news release is published here too - and on the right of the page you'll find links to the full research as pdf downloads:
http://www.labellingmatters.org/latest-news.html

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Misleading stats?

Posted by Anne Kasica,

It would be interesting to see how the questions were framed.

If you ask people if animal welfare is important in food production they will automatically say "yes".

What would they say if asked which was more important, animal welfare, food labelling or price?

If animal welfare was the overriding concern then high welfare products such as those carrying the stamp of the Soil Association would have 79% of the market. They do not.

How many people would agree if asked whether the writing on food labels is too small? Or whether they could actually read it?

What would they then answer if asked whether they want more information on food labels?

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