28 November 1997

Freedom Foods produce range to be extended

AWIDER range of produce is to be marketed under the RSPCAs Freedom Foods label, the conference heard.

RSPCA director general and chairman of Freedom Foods, Peter Davis, also warned that overseas countries, including New Zealand, were keen to franchise and use its welfare assurance label.

"We are expanding the range of foods under the Freedom Foods label, particularly on the dairy side, and hope to have several accredited cheeses on the market. It wont be long before farmed fish and venison are included, too."

Freedom Foods, launched in 1994, aims to give consumers assurance that meat, eggs and dairy products have been produced from animals cared for according to welfare standards laid down and monitored by the RSPCA.

"Freedom Foods is a non-profit making subsidiary of the RSPCA, but international licensing of the label is a possibility. Overseas countries are keen to franchise it, and New Zealand is high on that list, with a desire to use Freedom Foods in its sheep industry."

Mr Davis also acknowledged that some of the ideas previously pursued by the RSPCA were impractical. "We had a starting point of avoiding stock going through markets, but found that all the alternatives had difficulties such as long journey times. We are keeping our options open, but a system of collection centres throughout the UK may be an alternative."

He also said that whatever shortcomings the new EU transport directive had, it would need to be implemented throughout the EU. "We did a report this summer, and, regrettably, not all countries are implementing the directive as well as the UK.

"But we feel the live export trade, although it has an economic importance attached, is not necessary in a modern EU. It must be in everybodys interest to move towards carcass only trade, and market quality chilled UK lamb." &#42

New Zealand is keen to franchise and use the Freedom Foods label in its sheep industry… RSPCAs Peter Davis.