06 July 1999
Consumers care about animals — until they reach the checkout

By Vicky Houchin

MORE than three-quarters of UK consumers claim to be concerned about farm animal welfare – but push such considerations out of their minds when they go shopping.

The revelation was made in an NOP survey commissioned by the RSPCAs Freedom Foods scheme and published at the Royal Show today (Tuesday).

The survey reveals that almost half of UK consumers find the whole subject of animal welfare too upsetting to contemplate while out shopping for meat and eggs.

It is these people that Freedom Foods now wants to target, said Peter Davies, the RSPCAs director-general.

The scheme has now recruited a number of celebrity chefs to help break through this psychological barrier.

The Freedom Foods Celebrity Recipe Collection was launched at the show today, aimed at providing a fast-track way to consumers through cooking.

Speaking at the launch, TV chef Antony Worrall Thompson said that the public has no confidence at the moment in food.

“Look at England and at all the scares weve had,” he said. “We dont trust the scientists or the Government at the moment.”

He believes that a middle road is needed between organic and conventional farming methods because organic standards are too strict and scare many farmers off.

“Freedom Foods is a great middle line, and it is where we need to go in the future,” he said.

Mr Worrall Thompson hopes to promote the Freedom Foods scheme over the coming months on television food programmes such as Ready Steady Cook.

A research project aimed at measuring improvements in welfare standards since the introduction of the scheme, was also announced at the show.

The project will be carried out by Bristol University and will be funded to the tune of £150,000 by Tesco.