Food labelling: new scoring system could better enable consumers to make decisions based on animal welfare

Food labelling could help make decisions based on animal welfar

Wolfson Fellow, Professor James Wood OBE, is part of a Cambridge University team that has created a new system of measuring animal welfare that enables reliable comparison across different types of pig farming. 

Food labelling could help make decisions based on animal welfar

This means that animal welfare can now, for the first time, be properly considered alongside other impacts of farming to help identify which farming systems are best. This is vital for improving animal welfare in livestock production, at a time when demand for meat is rising globally and the way animals are farmed is changing - with concerns about the welfare of intensive and indoor systems. 

Animal welfare assessments could also enable consumers to be better informed when choosing what to eat. 

Professor Wood said: “This work opens up possibilities for greater rolling out of welfare assessment scores in food labelling, including in other species as well as pigs. Until now, the methods available have made this impractical.” 

Britain has various labelling schemes for meat products to assure consumers that certain standards have been met. The team used their new system to test how the different labels compare in terms of animal welfare. 

Farms producing ‘woodland’ labelled pork products scored best for pig welfare, followed by ‘organic’, then free-range, RSPCA assured, Red Tractor, and finally those with no certification. 

The results are published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 

You can read the full story on the University’s website now.  

This research was funded by the BBSRC, the Royal Society, MRC, and The Alborada Trust.