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RSPCA Assured is 30 and More Important Than Ever

I’ve spent the whole of my career in the food industry and one thing I’ve learned over the years is the importance of animal welfare in farming. It was this and my drive to make a difference that led me to step into the role of executive director of RSPCA Assured.

The RSPCA’s higher welfare assurance scheme, RSPCA Assured, was revolutionary when it started 30 years ago and continues to be a driving force for change today - not just for animals, but for the entire food system.

Look for the RSPCA Assured Logo

The RSPCA Assured logo was launched as a simple way for food shoppers to identify higher welfare products and it remains the easiest way to quickly signify that to customers on-pack. 

RSPCA Assured is the first scheme to focus solely on farm animal welfare and require its members to meet market-leading welfare standards developed by the RSPCA, covering every aspect of animals’ lives.

From introducing environmental enrichment (so animals can express natural behaviours such as rooting, perching and pecking) to banning cages for hens and farrowing crates for pigs, RSPCA Assured has made a difference to the lives of many millions of animals in the UK, and inspired improvements in welfare around the world.

Millions of pigs, hens, chickens, turkeys, cows, salmon and trout are raised on RSPCA Assured farms each year, accounting for about half of all laying hens, 20% of pigs, and more than 90% of farmed Scottish salmon.

Buying RSPCA Assured Labelled Products

More than 1,800 RSPCA Assured-labelled products are stocked by most of the major retailers, including Aldi, Co-op, Lidl, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco - and served in restaurants including Frankie & Benny’s, McDonald’s and JD Wetherspoon.

In 2017 all of M&S’s own-brand milk became RSPCA Assured, followed by all of its own-brand fresh pork, milk, salmon, trout, eggs and own-brand fresh chicken, making it the retailer with the largest range of RSPCA Assured products.

I’m extremely proud of these achievements, which wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and commitment of our RSPCA Assured members and retail partners. But, as animal rights campaigners have rightly pointed out, the farming industry still faces some challenges.

Challenging Times

You may have seen that the RSPCA has recently been the focus of activists who don’t think we should be working with the food and farming industries to improve welfare. Their actions have been wide-ranging, including undercover filming on a handful of RSPCA Assured members’ farms and stunts like vandalising a portrait of King Charles. 

Animal welfare is our top priority. It is the sole reason the charity scheme exists, and we take any concerns extremely seriously. At the time of writing, our investigations into whether there have been any breaches by RSPCA Assured members are still ongoing.

Dedicated to Farmed Animal Welfare

Welfare problems on RSPCA Assured member farms are very rare. Some animal welfare issues in farming are difficult to solve, but we (and the RSPCA) are the only organisations tackling this head-on by working directly with the industry to bring about vital improvements.

In a recent poll, 86% of people said they wouldn’t consider adopting a vegan diet within the next 12 months**. This is further proof there’s a vital role for RSPCA Assured to play in improving farmed animal welfare.

On our 30th birthday and beyond, we’re determined to achieve our ambition of more than half of the UK’s farmed animals being raised to RSPCA welfare standards by 2030. 

We are confident that the best way to achieve this is by inspiring everyone who chooses to eat meat, fish, eggs and dairy to look for the RSPCA Assured logo.

** RSPCA Assured commissioned a YouGov survey in May 2024 - a representative sample of 2,058 adults in the UK.


Originally published in The Grocer on 20 June 2024. Why RSPCA Assured remains crucial in the face of criticism

About the author

Toby Baker -Executive Director

A passionate advocate for farm animal welfare, Toby's proud that RSPCA Assured has helped improve the lives of millions of farm animals since it was launched 30 years ago.

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