Nearly 50% of people think farms are high welfare

Nearly 50% of people think farms are high welfare

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Nearly half (48.5%) of people think the meat, fish and eggs they buy and eat out comes from farms meeting high animal welfare standards, according to a new poll by RSPCA Assured.

The survey also revealed that most people (75%)  think farm animal welfare is important when shopping and eating out.

However, despite latest reports of an increase in ethical purchasing, the reality is that less than 4% of the food produced in the UK comes from farms meeting the RSPCA's higher welfare standards.

This means the vast majority of food produced in the UK could be coming from farms that don’t necessarily meet all of the animals’ welfare needs.  For example:

Mother pig and piglets in a farrowing crate.jpg
  • Meat chickens can be kept in overcrowded houses with no natural light and bred to grow so fast they put on weight too quickly, causing lameness and heart defects
  • Around half of all egg laying hens are kept in cages where they don’t have room to properly move around, flap their wings and do all the things that hens like doing such as dustbathing and foraging
  • Pigs can be kept in barren houses with not enough space and no straw to lie on and root around in.  Mothering pigs can even be kept in farrowing crates, metal crates which severely restrict their movement until the piglets are weaned.

Nearly one billion animals are farmed every year in the UK for food - that’s a staggering 56 times more farm animals than there are pet cats and dogs.

Clive Brazier, CEO of RSPCA Assured, said:

“We're known as a nation of animal lovers so it's no surprise that the welfare of farm animals is important to most of us.  

"But I think people will be surprised and disappointed - especially in this day and age of growing ethical consumerism - that such a small amount of our food comes from higher welfare farms, like those under the RSPCA Assured label.

"Sadly I think many of us are hoodwinked into thinking the meat, fish and eggs we buy and eat out meets high welfare standards because of clever labelling and simply because it's passed basic regulations, but this couldn't be further from the truth.  

"The fact is a lot of the food we eat can come from farms that don't adequately meet the welfare needs of the animals.  And that's why we are asking people to look for higher  

welfare labels like RSPCA Assured, free range and organic.”  

 The RSPCA Assured label means the animals have come from farms inspected to RSPCA standards.  

These include, for example, giving them plenty of space, natural light and things to do such as hanging vegetables for chickens to peck at and straw for pigs to root around in. It also means they have been cared for to RSPCA standards at other stages of their life including in transport and at the abattoir.  Clive concludes:

"It’s a simple solution; the more people choose labels like RSPCA Assured, the more supermarkets and restaurants will source products from higher welfare farms and more farm animals will have a better life."

Notes to editors:

  • A survey of 1,000 UK adults was carried out by Toluna Quicksurveys on Friday 9

September 2016

  • There are currently about 42 million terrestrial farm animals - plus many millions of salmon and trout - being farmed under the RSPCA Assured scheme
  • More than a quarter of all UK pig production, 50 per cent of egg laying hens and nearly 80 per cent of Scottish farmed salmon are farmed to RSPCA welfare standards
  • RSPCA welfare standards cover all aspects of an animal’s life including on farm, in transport and at the abattoir.  RSPCA standards must also be met by the processor and packer
  • Traceability checks are carried out on RSPCA Assured products from supermarket shelf back to farm to check they truly qualify for the RSPCA Assured label
  • All RSPCA Assured members - including farms, processors, packers, hauliers and
RSPCA Assured chicken

 abattoirs - are subject to annual assessments by scheme assessors and monitoring visits are carried out by RSPCA farm livestock officers on a proportion of the membership annually

  • Sainsbury’s is the largest retailer of RSPCA Assured products in the UK

If you are a journalist and would like more information, please contact:

Rebecca Lenik, media relations manager

01403 821752

Carole Stewart

07770 881578

RSPCA press office

0300 123 0244

Date: 20 Sep 2016