Labelling and animal welfare
June 20, 2017
Consumers have a right to know where their meat comes from, how it was reared, and how it was killed at the time of slaughter. Currently this is not necessarily the case.
Although some limited mandatory labelling does exist in the UK, on country of origin, the RSPCA would like to see this extended to method of production and method of slaughter labelling as well to ensure that consumers are getting an accurate picture of the meat they are eating.
There are three types of labelling:
- Country of origin simply provides consumers with clear information as to where their food has come from. COOL is already mandatory for meat under EU law. The Government has indicated that all EU law will be carried over into UK law under the Great Repeal Bill so these rules on COOL will continue to apply after Brexit.
- Method of production labelling identifies the farming system used to produce the food and helps consumers make an informed choice about which production methods to support through their purchases. This form of labelling has existed for shell eggs since 2004.
- Method of slaughter labelling identifies whether an animal was stunned (ie rendered insensible to pain) before it was slaughtered. Whilst slaughter without pre-stunning remains permissible under the law, mandatory labelling should be introduced so that all meat from animals that have not been stunned is labelled.
The RSPCA would like to see mandatory method of production and slaughter labelling introduced in the UK.
There is a wealth of evidence that labelling schemes are popular with consumers and effective in encouraging welfare friendly shopping, not least the introduction of mandatory method of production labelling on shell eggs. Labelling has also shown to be consistent with WTO trade rules.
For more information, please see the briefing.