Defra drops plans for mandatory animal welfare labelling

Defra has dropped plans to consult on the introduction of mandatory animal welfare labelling, following heavy criticism from industry.

Under the plans, new rules would have required food products to be categorised in different tiers, depending upon method of production.

See more: Campaign for better food labelling to protect UK farmers

Pork, poultry and eggs would have come under the scope of the regulations first, with Defra claiming the move would have given consumers a clearer indication of how food is produced, as well as “simplifying” existing welfare labels.

But earlier this year, the NFU, National Pig Association, British Meat Processors Association, Food and Drink Federation, Dairy UK and British Poultry Council united in opposition to the proposals, warning they would add significant costs into the supply chain without delivering clarity for shoppers.

Defra had been planning to launch a formal consultation on the plans in the spring, but this failed to materialise, and this week officials informed industry they did not believe it was the “right time” to proceed.

NPA chief executive Lizzie Wilson said: “[We] made it very clear to Defra that you cannot equate welfare with method of production and that the proposed system would likely confuse, rather than inform.

“We welcome the fact that Defra has listened to us and others throughout the supply chain on this and will continue to work with them to ensure any future moves to increase transparency in the pork supply chain are proportionate and effective.”

A Defra spokesman said the department would continue to work with farmers and supermarkets to improve information for shoppers and support the production of healthier, higher welfare animals through its Animal Health and Welfare Pathway.

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