New CiWF director calls for improved baseline for animal welfare
Published:  11 June, 2013

Supermarkets should set themselves more challenging baseline standards on animal welfare when it comes to value products, according to Compassion in World Farming’s (CiWF) new director of food business Dr Tracey Jones.

Jones has replaced previous director Steve McIvor and has worked with the CiWF food business team for the last two and a half years. She told meatinfo.co.uk, website for Meat Trades Journal, that “things cannot carry on as they are”.

“Something has to change. Welfare must become a key component of sustainability and corporate social responsibility programmes, and the life of the animal must be valued and respected,” she said. “Standards vary, obviously, by retailer. Some of the larger retailers might say there’s a large range of choice for the consumer, which may go from low to higher welfare. That would be where they are using value brands that comply just with minimum legislation.”

However, Jones said the offer should start at “improved welfare” and move up to higher welfare, to close the gap. She said if this was to happen, meat would be produced to higher standards and become a familiar sight to consumers, “which happened with eggs a couple of years ago”.

She acknowledged that some supermarkets are pushing forward with animal welfare initiatives. “We see standards [in store] that we are working towards and we see them in their [the supermarkets’] social objectives,” she said.

But she also argued against supermarkets driving prices down through intensification, which she said was not good for farmers or animals. “If you did the reverse, you could afford to pay a little bit more and waste less and eat less,” she said, adding that if retailers took some of the choice away from the consumer it would help boost the income of farmers and grow consumer knowledge.   
“That’s part of the education process,” she said “but it goes way back into school education and beyond supermarkets. There was a report out the other day about children not knowing where their food comes from and this is something happening far too often.”