A group of farmers raising livestock purely on pasture want the government to introduce mandatory grass-fed labelling for beef, lamb and dairy products in the UK.
The regulations would mean the term “grass-fed” needed to identify exactly what percentage of the animal’s diet was grass.
The Pasture-Fed Livestock Association (PFLA) said this would help consumers make informed decisions based on accurate information.
Currently in the UK, the term grass-fed can be used on any products that are “predominantly” grass-fed, which could be as low as 51%.
The association points to scientific evidence that meat and milk from animals that have only ever eaten grass and pasture is different in nutritional quality – lower in saturated fat, a much healthier ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids, and more vitamins and minerals.
The PFLA welcomed the government’s intention to introduce regulations around labelling of specific terms and methods of production in the Agriculture Bill, which is on its second reading in the House of Lords before it is due back in the Commons in July.
Alistair Stobie, lobbying lead for the PFLA, said: “We see this commitment as fundamental to achieving the desired higher animal welfare, environmental and human health outcomes from the bill.”
The majority of farmers who are members of the association already use a Pasture for Life certification label, which verifies their products are 100% grass-fed. There is a rigorous process to become certified.
In a briefing paper, World Trade Organisation Rules and Livestock Labelling, the PFLA outlines why meat and dairy products from grass-fed animals can be labelled to show consumers that it has a much higher nutrient content, compared with products from grain-finished animals.
“We believe the scientific research into the nutritional difference of grass-fed over grain-fed meat would meet the ‘objective difference’ requirement of the World Health Organisation,” Mr Stobie said.
The PFLA has sent out a letter template to its 600 members, as well as the briefing paper, so they can lobby their MPs.
It coincides with the second reading of the Trade Bill through the House of Commons, due in the week commencing 8 June.