Animal comes first
THE sole focus behind the RSPCAs Freedom Food scheme is farm animal welfare.
But FF also believes there may well be benefits in product quality, hygiene and food safety as well as improved health. This has yet to be proven as no performance records have been kept either before or after joining an assurance scheme. Vince Cartledge, FFs technical manager, hopes there will be a positive result within five to 10 years.
The scheme is based on the Farm Animal Welfare Councils Five Freedoms.
"Freedom Foods standards are higher than those for other assurance schemes. If you read them there may seem to be relatively few clear cut differences, but the RSPCA standard will say must, whereas the others recommend could or should. The other difference is that FF inspections and monitoring are totally independent," says Mike Sharp, general manager of Freedom Foods.
"We see our standard as several degrees higher than the base line of the industry standard." *