Posts Tagged ‘food labelling’

Consumers Blindfolded

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Labelling CartoonDo we know what’s in our food? How it’s produced? And where it came from?

These simple questions are uppermost in my mind as the international scandal in horsemeat continues to unfold.

People have a right to know the facts about the food they buy.

With the urgent need to rebuild consumer trust in their food, there has never been a better time to introduce better labelling. And by that I mean food labelling that serves the consumer – you and me – not just the interests of government and food producers.

Yes, there are various labelling terms already used, including free-range and organic.

But the vast majority of meat and dairy on supermarket shelves is produced from animals raised in intensive factory-farmed systems. But you wouldn’t know it from the labels.

Slogans such as “Farm Fresh” and “All Natural,” which are all too often prominently displayed alongside cute drawings of animals roaming in fields and farm yards, beckon us to believe something far removed from how today’s industrialised food is really produced.  (more…)

Horsemeat: The WHOLE truth about cheap meat

Friday, February 15th, 2013

It seems like it should be simple; we just want to know what we are eating.

But recent revelations about horse meat in beef ready meals, pork in beef pies, and now even suspicions of donkey meat labelled as beef on supermarket shelves, show that we can’t trust what food labels tell us. Compassion has a simple solution; join us in calling for food labels that tell the whole truth.

The recent scandals are revealing the true nature of the cheap meat production system, and it isn’t a pretty picture. The corruption and contamination issues are just the tip of the iceberg.  The scale and complexity of the food chain are not just bad news for consumers, they are also a disaster for animal welfare.

With more than 80% of the EU’s farm animals being factory farmed in inhumane conditions; confined, overcrowded, unable to express natural behaviours, pumped full of antibiotics, undertaking long journeys or suffering painful mutilations – the animals that go into many meat products are likely to have endured a great deal of suffering in their short lives.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

We know that consumers are interested in animal welfare. We know that clear labelling leads to an increase in sales of higher welfare animal products. We need labels that tell us the truth about what is in our food, and how it was produced.

The whole truth; so consumers can exercise their right to choose higher welfare products and know what they are eating. We are calling for true transparency in food labelling, including country of origin and mandatory method of production labelling. Please join us.

Thank you for your support.

Minister, end live exports!

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Last week, my team and I met with Defra Minister, David Heath. Although my lobbying team had met with Mr Heath previously, this was my first time. The meeting was in Smith Square, the venue of many a demonstration against live exports, quite a few organised by our own campaigns team. We went through security and were greeted by an official designated to show us up several floors, along seemingly never-ending corridors, to the office of the Minister. 

I’ve met many government ministers throughout my career, in London and around the world. I always sit with my team well ahead of the meeting and prepare in detail what we’re going to cover. I’ve found that you very seldom get long to put your point across. Preparation and brevity are key to making points successfully.  As we waited to go in, I felt my usual nervous tension; I’m always keenly aware of carrying the case for animals.

We were greeted warmly by the Minister and launched into our two-pointed agenda; better labelling and live animal exports. We were accompanied at the start of the meeting by 9-year old Ayrton Cable, grandson of the Minister’s cabinet colleague, Business Secretary, Vince Cable.  Ayrton is youth ambassador for the Labelling Matters campaign,  a joint initiative with the RSPCA, Soil Association and WSPA. He produced a film making the case for meat and milk to carry labels telling consumers how the food was produced. Ayrton’s presence helped diffuse the opening mood of the meeting, with the Minister suggesting he had sympathy for our case on labelling. 

Ayrton’s law on labelling

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

The grandson of Business Secretary, Vince Cable, called last night for a new law on better food labelling.  Nine-year-old Ayrton Cable premiered his film, ‘How was this animal kept?’, to an invited audience of MPs and lobbyists in Westminster.  Dressed in blue blazer and wearing a radio microphone, Ayrton addressed the audience with a common-sense maturity that belied his tender years.  He was calling for meat and dairy products to be labelled according to the way the animals were reared.

The event heralded the launch of a new campaign, Labelling Matters, by Compassion in World Farming, the RSPCA, Soil Association and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).  The campaign is calling for mandatory labelling of meat and milk according to method of production in the UK and Europe, in much the same way as we’ve already achieved for eggs.  The cornerstone of consumer choice is to know what it is we’re buying; and for too long, shoppers have been sold factory farmed produce under labels like ‘farm fresh’ and ‘country fresh’.

Please help the campaign by watching Ayrton’s film; share it far and wide; and please sign the Labelling Matters petition. Thank you.

Red Tractor complaint upheld

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Food labelling is a confusing issue for most consumers.  Time pressed shoppers are confronted with an array of logos at the supermarket, many of which they won’t know the meaning of.  One of these is the Red Tractor label.  From the logo itself it’s hard to tell what the label represents. What it certainly doesn’t represent is high welfare standards but this is exactly what recent adverts on billboards, social media and in the national press claimed.

Last week, Compassion learned our complaint against the adverts which claimed “Red Tractor pork is high welfare pork” has been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which judged them misleading.    

This is a positive thing for consumers, who deserve to be able to make an informed choice to buy meat from high welfare systems.  It’s also positive that the adverts were even trying to claim high welfare standards in the first place, as surely this proves it is a powerful message that sells products.

Compassion objected to the claim for many reasons, which included the fact that Red Tractor allows slatted flooring and farrowing crates.  You can read our complaint letter to see our reasoning in detail.  But at the heart of our objection is the question of fairness.  The claim was unfair to consumers because it mislead them and it was unfair to those pig farmers who do deliver high welfare on their farms and deserve to be able to use that as a point of differentiation in their marketing.

We all deserve to be given an accurate picture of what we are buying.  Now that the ASA has ruled that the claim was misleading, we can only hope that those behind the adverts take note and work harder not to deceive consumers in the future.

Farmageddon on film

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About Philip Lymbery

Philip Lymbery is Chief Executive Officer of Compassion in World Farming and co-author of Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat. He is an internationally respected authority on the impact of industrial agriculture on people, animals and the planet.