Ever wondered where your meat and eggs come from? A farm surely, but have you thought about what kind of farm, where that farm is, and how the animals are treated?
A growing trend amongst New Zealanders believe because a product says it is ‘free range’, it is good. If it says free range the product comes from animals that have had a happy life, right? Well in some cases that may be true, but for some free range products that is not necessarily the case.
Here are six things you need to know about high farm animal welfare.
1. Free range is good, right?
Free range is only a style of farming and you need to question by what measure products are proven free range and whether it ticks the other, very important animal welfare boxes.
2. There are no regulations that control the definition of free range produce or other marketing terms.
Free range and free-to-roam can easily be used as marketing terms, but free-to-roam for how many hours per day and for how many days a year? Without an independent third party certification, New Zealanders could be paying more for free range products than they should be with no assurance of good animal welfare.
A good barn operation is better than a poor free range operation with limited access to the outdoors, no access to litter inside the sheds so that the birds can forage and dust bath, poor ventilation system inside the sheds and overall not meeting the full behavioural needs based on the ‘Five Freedoms’ and strict standards set out by animal welfare experts.
3. Trust is instilled by independent accreditation
Ensure the product lives up to its claims by looking for a trusted, independent accreditation certification logo on the packaging. One such accreditation is the SPCA Blue Tick®, independent from the food and farming industries. Run by the SPCA, the charity is not involved in the business of farming or food production that could influence the standards or farming methods. Instead, they have animal welfare at heart as part of their mission to advance the welfare of all animals in New Zealand.
4. Rigour in achieving standards is necessary
Independent accreditation and consumer trust is only as good as the standards that are represented. SPCA Blue Tick® stringent and enforceable standards are science-based, reflecting global best practise in high animal welfare, compiled by animal welfare experts and signed off by the SPCA Chief Scientific Officer.
5. Auditing assures ongoing compliance with rigorous standards
Consumer trust requires evidence and that evidence can’t be a ‘once off’. The SPCA Blue Tick® standards are audited by trained third party auditors and then approved by the SPCA. Independent auditing is conducted annually, including unannounced audits throughout the year so that shoppers can be assured the standards are maintained all year round.
6. Do your homework
Always look beyond the marketing and the pretty pictures. Ask the right questions such as: How has the product been certified as free range? Is it an independent and regular audit? Audited against what standards? Who writes those standards? Have the standards been written by animal welfare experts or written by the farmer or by non-animal welfare experts? Does the product meet the minimal standards of the animal welfare codes or do the standards go beyond that, such as stringent high animal welfare standards that are enforceable?
With more informed and selective shoppers, products that stand out on the shelf are those that appeal to the values of the New Zealanders. With more mindful consumers wanting to know how their food is produced and where it comes from, the SPCA Blue Tick® certification logo makes it easy shopping for them.
More importantly, by choosing certified high animal welfare products, New Zealanders indirectly support Kiwi farmers farming to enforceable standards where animal welfare is at the core.
For more information, visit www.spcabluetick.org.nz.
Media release published:
Leandri Smith, PR Republic, 027 365 9003, firstname.lastname@example.org.