Across EU Member States, more and more consumers and politicians value animal welfare (AW) as an integral part of sustainable agriculture. Yet, information on the animal welfare status under which a certain product is produced is rare. Labels are unevenly distributed across the EU and largely depend on voluntary private initiatives following various approaches and using different interpretations of the term animal welfare. The findings of a European Commission study on animal welfare labelling confirm that EU Citizens want to make informed purchasing decisions, looking for more transparency and clarity on animal welfare and would appreciate a clear labelling system that aids them in making conscious choices. In this regard, there is a need for action to meet the growing consumer expectations.
This is why FOUR PAWS is working to push the decision-making process towards a mandatory EU-wide animal welfare label.
Our calls and actions
Currently, FOUR PAWS is coordinating the Working Group on Animal Welfare Labelling of the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals, which aims at bringing together MEPs to take concrete action in relation to the creation and adoption of an EU-wide label of animal-derived products.
More specifically, the group advises the European Commission on an EU-wide labelling scheme that:
- is mandatory and multi-tiered
- includes labels on all farm animal production standards ranging from minimum EU-legislation to premium level
- includes retailing and out-of-home consumption to provide most transparency and to increase label awareness and knowledge
- is simple and easy to understand for consumers
- incorporates an independent and reliable control and certification system
Working Group on Animal Welfare Labelling is created
Within the Intergroup on the Welfare & Conservation of Animals of the European Parliament, a dedicated Working Group is created to push the decision-making process towards a mandatory EU-wide animal welfare label. The Working group is coordinated by FOUR PAWS, aiming to profile its members as strong voices for an animal welfare label, develop a manifesto on labelling, provide written questions and send a letter to the European Commission.
The long-term goal is to push for a shift in agriculture towards higher quality, lower-volume production that meets environmental, animal welfare and nutritional concerns.
European Parliament adopts resolution on Farm to Fork strategy and labelling
In its response to the Farm to Fork Strategy the European Parliament said that comprehensible information on animal welfare and sustainability, and the public provision of information on the true cost of production can help to guide the consumer towards healthy, sustainable and safe nutrition.
In the resolution on the implementation report on on-farm animal welfare (2020/2085(INI)), the Parliament finds that consumers should be provided with clear and transparent information by ensuring clear and reliable labelling of animal products on welfare-related aspects of the entire production cycle, including the method of production.
European Commission launches public consultation on revision of EU Animal Welfare legislation
As part of the fitness check on EU animal welfare legislation, the Commission considered options for labelling in the survey to the inception impact assessment. The vast majority of respondents (90% of all respondents, i.e. 53 128 out of 59 281) of the public consultation clearly pointed out that an EU AW-label is a useful tool to inform consumers about animal welfare.
EPRS publishes study on 'Prospects for animal welfare labelling at EU level'
The European Parliamentary Research Service publishes an ex-post evaluation of EU legislation: 'Prospects for animal welfare labelling at EU level' exploring the potential benefits of introducing a transparent and harmonised animal welfare labelling system for animal and animal-derived products, that also takes into account transport and slaughter conditions.
The study summarizes the importance of a harmonized EU labelling system. However, discrepancies are found between the different stakeholders, if such a label should be mandatory or voluntary.
Farm to Fork Strategy presents sustainable food labelling proposal
As part of the European Green Deal, the Farm to Fork Strategy is published, in which animal welfare is deemed as a key component of sustainability in the food chain.
The strategy announces that the Commission will revise the animal welfare legislation and presents a plan to formulate a legislative proposal for a sustainable food labelling framework by the end of the legislative term in 2024.
European Commission publishes study on animal welfare labelling
The findings of DG SANTE's study on animal welfare labelling confirm that Europeans are looking for more transparency and clarity on animal welfare and would appreciate a clear labelling system that aids them in making conscious choices. According to the study, 2/3 of Europeans feel like they have insufficient information on the conditions farm animals are kept and treated. Over 40% of Europeans want to have more information on slaughter conditions and adequate feeding and 35% want to know if animals had outdoor access.
The study also found that EU citizens tend to trust an NGO or EU public authority run scheme more than one from the private sector or national public authorities.
FOUR PAWS feedback on the Roadmap of the Revision of rules on Information provided to Consumers
Read our written feedback to the European Commission on the information given to consumers regarding food and animal welfare