Compassion in World farming has joined forces with the Soil Association, WSPA and the RSPCA to launch 'Labelling Matters' calling for clearer food labelling to better inform consumers about how their food was produced.
The campaign was launched yesterday at Portcullis House, by nine-year-old Ayrton Cable, grandson of Business Secretary, Vince Cable. He showed a short film he had made about the need for better labelling. He said:
"I think all meat and dairy products, like chicken, cheese and bacon should be clearly and honestly labelled to show the farm system used to rear the animal."
In the eight minute film, Ayrton examines different farming systems and asks his contemporaries if they would make different choices if they knew how their food had been produced.
The campaign aims to highlight the difficulty consumers have in making informed decisions about the things they buy and calls for a consistent system of labelling that gives consumers information about the systems their meat was reared in.
Representatives from all four campaigning partners, spoke at the event.
Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive of Compassion in World Farming, said: "In surveys up to 90% of UK consumers say animal welfare is an important factor when shopping for food, and yet many people find it difficult to identify higher welfare products on supermarket shelves. Factory farmed foods often have misleading images of rolling fields and 'happy' animals on the labels. Without clear information, many shoppers will continue to buy intensively farmed food without realising it.
Julia Wrathall, Head of Farm Animals at RSPCA, said: "Mandatory labelling of egg boxes with the method of production has been in place since 2004. The clear information provided has helped more and more consumers to choose cage-free eggs. More than half the eggs produced in the UK now come from higher welfare farming systems - barn, free range, and organic, showing that people are prepared to pay a bit more to improve animal welfare, thereby supporting farmers who rear animals under higher welfare conditions.
"Government and retailers are both responsible for ensuring consumers are protected from unclear or misleading labels. We need to change the system so that shoppers can choose the foods they most want to buy."
"We all bear responsibility for the way farm animals are produced - governments, farmers, retailers and very importantly, consumers. Mandatory rules on labelling not only help farmers differentiate their products in the market place, but also help consumers who want to support and reward higher welfare farming."