Vets Campaign for Better Meat Labelling

New Labelling Rules Would Demand Information on How The Animal Lived and Died

Vets have lent their weight to the Labelling Matters campaign in calling for more rigorous labelling of meat and dairy products to show method of production and slaughter.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has added its voice Labelling Matters, an ongoing partnership project led by Compassion in World Farming, Eurogroup for Animals, the RSPCA and the Soil Association.

The increased regulations would have major repercussions for all companies involved in the packaging, processing and sale of meat and dairy products. Existing labelling requirements are stringent, and this campaign gives an example of how these requirements can change over time. Affected businesses need to choose their partners carefully when it comes to label printing services, to be sure that all the necessary information is provided and the most recent regulations are met.

Labelling Matters

The Labelling Matters partnership is led by Compassion in World Farming, a campaigning and lobbying organisation that has been around since 1967 and has grown from small beginnings to a global movement with high-profile media and celebrity endorsements.

The campaign calls for mandatory labelling as to the method of production for meat and dairy products across the EU. It argues that only mandatory labelling can be truly effective and provide real choice, as under a voluntary scheme, only those using organic and non-intensive methods would be likely to provide the information.

Research published by the campaign indicates that more than three quarters of EU consumers support mandatory labelling.

A UK Focus

The campaign itself is EU-wide, but in the wake of the EU Referendum, Brexit has been seen as an ideal opportunity to step up the campaign within the UK.

Lorraine Platt, Co-Founder of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, commented, “Brexit offers an unprecedented opportunity to take back control of British food production and for more farmers to shift from volume to quality production and help safeguard the future of British farming.”

Platt’s words may strike a chord with many UK farmers, who have found it increasingly difficult to compete with overseas competition on price alone. The Labelling Matters campaign dovetails well with positioning British meat and dairy brands based on quality values.

Campaigners are quick to remind us that similar regulations have been in place for eggs for more than ten years – again, as a result of a campaign led by Compassion in World Farming. The results of that are clear to see – brands are differentiated and quality has become almost synonymous with production methods.

Veterinary Support

The British Veterinary Association’s backing in September added further momentum to the campaign. BVA President Sean Wensley stated that the majority of people feel animal welfare is an important consideration when buying meat products and want to know that the animals reared have a good life and a humane death.

This ties in with the BVA’s own position that non-stun slaughter should be prohibited on animal welfare grounds, a stance that they have held for a number of years.

Better Information, Better Choice

The CWAF has called on the British Government to add its support to the campaign, and there seems little doubt that it is more a question of when than if the new rules will be implemented. As Lorraine Platt said in her closing remarks, “Labels drive demand, and add value. They empower us to drive standards more effectively and to reward farmers who invest in better farm animal welfare.”