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RSPCA Assured has been improving the lives of farmed animals for over three decades. In that time, we’ve worked with 1,000s of UK farmers and all of the UK’s biggest food retailers.
Sometime in the early 90s, Alastair Mews, Head of Farm Animals and Deputy Chief Vet at the RSPCA, and Dr Mike Baxter, an external technical advisor spoke about the possibility of an ethical food label. They wanted to let consumers choose animal products from higher welfare farms and vote with their wallets. The idea would allow customer demand to drive progress in welfare by directly supporting farmers going the extra mile.
Over the next few years, the RSPCA conducted surveys to gauge public opinion and to see whether higher welfare products were viable. At the same time, they spoke to farmers and food retailers across the UK to see if there was sufficient interest in an assurance scheme. And in 1994, Freedom Food was launched. The scheme broke new ground by being the first to focus solely on farm animal welfare as well as being the first to require the implementation of welfare standards developed by the RSPCA.
Why Freedom Food?
Freedom Food was revolutionary, as it introduced requirements like farm-specific veterinary health and welfare plans. There were no formulated standards for assessing farms when we launched and the only species on our scheme were laying hens and pigs. Back then assessments were carried out by our solitary assessor who checked to make sure everything on the farm was looking OK.