Chickens in a barn

Food Labelling

FOUR PAWS overall purpose is to enhance transparency of animal source food and increase animal welfare on EU level

13.1.2021

Rationale

As indicated by the Special Eurobarometer 442 on the Attitudes of Europeans towards Animal Welfare, more than nine in ten EU citizens believe it is important to protect the welfare of farmed animals and an absolute majority (52%) of Europeans look for animal welfare-friendly identifying labels when buying products (Special Eurobarometer 442, Attitudes of Europeans towards Animal Welfare, 2016). Hence, the European Commission rightly announced that options for animal welfare labelling will be explored as part of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy (COM/2020/381 final) and has established, under the EU Platform on Animal Welfare, a sub-group on animal welfare labelling. FOUR PAWS has been chosen by the Commission to be a member of this Subgroup. In turn, the Council of the European Union, representing EU Member States, adopted Conclusions on an EU-wide animal welfare label in December 2020 (DOC 14047/20).

The most famous and successful approach in labelling when it comes to method of production of an animal product has been established 2004 with the egg-trading-regulation, mandatory throughout the EU and helping to drive cage-keeping systems towards an end. Nevertheless, comparable systems for meat or dairy products are missing or exist at a voluntary basis only (e.g. EU-organic-regulations; German “Haltungsform”).

FOUR PAWS’ Position

Consumers need transparency to be able to do reflected shopping choices. Ideally, labeling-tools should include the housing system of the animal, transport and slaughter conditions as well as the overall welfare status of farm animals. By increasing the transparency of animal source food in the EU, farm animal welfare could be improved and most cruel practices could end in the long run.

FOUR PAWS sees three methods as options, in order of priority:

  • (1) A mandatory method-of-production classification: This system should include crucial indicators ensuring the possibility to evaluate the animal welfare status. This must be addressed by a European animal welfare monitoring system. The classification should further include additional steps in the whole life cycle of farm animals (“from birth to death”).
  • (2) A voluntary animal-welfare-label, which can include different levels, should come along with a clear goal of changing animal husbandry in Europe towards higher welfare. A possibility to measure this would be eg. a timeline like 40% cross-levels until 2030. The label itself should follow a similar mechanism like the EU-organic-regulations, which regulates in detail keeping systems of farm animals including the whole life cycle. This system should also incorporate at least crucial indicators to assess the animal welfare status.
  • (3) In case, none of the mentioned systems can be established at a European level, FOUR PAWS supports to develop a private European animal-welfare-standard to facilitate consumer´s decision towards higher animal welfare products throughout the member states. As valuable tool for implementation, FOUR PAWS refers to its own animal welfare label Tierschutz-kontrolliert.

FOUR PAWS recommends political decisionmakers on EU-level to implement a mandatory method of production classification, possibly aligned with a voluntary animal welfare label.

Until clear political guidance is given, FOUR PAWS recommends decision makers from industries to use their own labeling scheme and collaborate with animal welfare organizations for private labeling, to make sure their product range diversifies more towards animal welfare friendly sources.

FOUR PAWS recommends to consumers to use their power to drive animal welfare in farming systems with informed shopping choices. FP has been supporting this process by establishing the national animal welfare label Tierschutz-kontrolliert.

FOUR PAWS’ Recommendations/Requests

FOUR PAWS recommends political decisionmakers on EU-level to implement a mandatory method of production classification, possibly aligned with a voluntary animal welfare label.

Until clear political guidance is given, FOUR PAWS recommends decision makers from industries to use their own labeling scheme and collaborate with animal welfare organizations for private labeling, to make sure their product range diversifies more towards animal welfare friendly sources.

FOUR PAWS recommends to consumers to use their power to drive animal welfare in farming systems with informed shopping choices. FP has been supporting this process by establishing the national animal welfare label Tierschutz-kontrolliert.

FOUR PAWS animal welfare label “Tierschutz-kontrolliert”

FOUR PAWS established a standard for the keeping conditions, transport and slaughtering of farm animals. In 2012, FOUR PAWS began developing guidelines for our “Tierschutz-kontrolliert" animal welfare label together with scientific livestock experts and veterinarians.  It is the best practice for producers and gives consumers the opportunity to support this by re-assessing their consumption habits. 

While FOUR PAWS runs the label mainly in Austria, it also serves as a best practice example and solution for the problems inherent in the current animal husbandry system globally. The partnering farms are best practice examples for how we see the future of handling farm animals.

The stringent “Tierschutz-kontrolliert” guidelines for a species-appropriate life have been outlined for dairy cows, cattle for fattening, pigs for fattening, ducks for fattening, laying hens, chickens for fattening, turkeys for fattening.

The compliance of the “Tierschutz-kontrolliert” guidelines is regulated by a strict certification system and gets regulated at least once a year by independent controllers and by FOUR PAWS representatives. 

Cow in a field

the criteria calls for a more respectful treatment of farm animals

Learn more about the best practice farms

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