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?
Many 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 where your food comes from and what high farm animal welfare means:
1. Free range is good, right?
Free range is only a style of farming. You need to question how products are proven to be free range and whether it ticks the other, very important animal welfare boxes.
2. Free range could just be a marketing term
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. Ask - is the product part of an accredited programme?
Trust is instilled by an 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 and run by the SPCA.
4. Strict enforceable standards is key
An independent accreditation is only as good as the welfare standards the animals are farmed to. SPCA Blue Tick requires approved farmers to farm according to its stringent and enforceable standards that are science-based, reflecting global best practise in high animal welfare. The SPCA Blue Tick standards go above the required minimum standards set out by government, are compiled by animal welfare experts and signed off by the SPCA Chief Scientific Officer. Consumers need to question and understand the standards and policies of animal welfare accreditation schemes.
5. Independent auditing - proof of product claims and compliance?
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 auditors visit approved farms annually, as well as unannounced throughout the year to ensure farmers are farming to SPCA's standards. During the audit, the packing area is also audited to ensure that processes and procedures are being followed. This process helps the SPCA provide shoppers the assurance that the standards are maintained and monitored continually.
6. Do your homework
Always look beyond the marketing and the pretty pictures and ask yourself the right questions:
- 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?
- 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?
By asking these questions and looking into product claims, the often confusing task of choosing a product that appeals to both the values of you the discerning New Zealander, as well as backing up product claims is made easier. The SPCA Blue Tick certification logo makes for easy shopping when choosing high animal welfare approved products and more importantly you are indirectly supporting kiwi farmers farming to SPCA enforceable standards where animal welfare is at the core.
Want to know a little more about the SPCA Blue Tick high animal welfare accreditation? The SPCA Blue Tick accreditation certifies eggs, chicken and pork products that have been farmed to SPCA high animal welfare standards.
SPCA Blue Tick is the only animal welfare accreditation in New Zealand independent from the food and farming industries with animal welfare at heart, as part of our mission to advance the welfare of all animals in New Zealand.
Look out for the SPCA Blue Tick certification logo on product packaging (or menus) giving you the assurance of animal welfare.
For a list of SPCA Blue Tick approved products please click here and if you would like to know more about the Five Freedoms please click here.
Leandri Smith, PR Republic, 027 365 9003, firstname.lastname@example.org.