M&S backs British veal

Marks & Spencer has announced it will stop selling imported white veal and calves liver.

From January 2008, the retailer will only sell high-welfare UK rosé veal. In the meantime, from 10 October, white veal will be removed from store. Calves liver is also being banned as it comes from the animals reared for white veal.

Calves reared for UK produced rosé veal are fed whole milk, eat a natural diet and are group housed with straw bedding in well-lit barns throughout the rearing period. UK rosé veal is pink in colour rather than white and its high welfare standards are backed by Compassion in World Farming and the RSPCA.

Philip Lymbery, chief executive of Compassion in World Farming, welcomed the move: "This is fantastic news. M&S has again raised the bar on animal welfare by committing to stock only higher-welfare UK-reared rosé veal. Not only that, all the bull calves used for their welfare-friendly veal will be supplied by one of their own dairy farmers. This is a great example of how retailers can work with their suppliers to find humane uses for bull calves."

Dr Julia Wrathall, head of the RSPCA's Farm Animals Department, said: "The RSPCA is delighted by and strongly welcomes this news which is an important step forward for calf welfare. In many cases, the way the calves are reared abroad simply does not satisfy their welfare needs. M&S has clearly demonstrated that it is possible to replace this trade by rearing these calves in the UK. We hope those supermarkets who have yet to address this issue will adopt a similar policy. The RSPCA and CIWF are working with M&S and the food and farming industries through the Beyond Calf Exports forum to achieve this."

M&S will source its rosé veal from a family run farm in Lothian who have been members of the M&S dairy pool since the introduction of the M&S Milk Pledge in 2002.

Making the announcement today, Steven Esom, Director of Food at Marks & Spencer said: "High animal welfare is at the heart of our business which is why we have taken the lead on banning white veal and calves liver from our stores. Our decision to move to UK rose veal has been welcomed by the CIWF and RSPCA."