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An EU animal welfare label by 2025?


At present, there is only one EU-wide compulsory system of labelling on animal welfare, which applies to table eggs. It defines different production methods (0 = organic egg production 1 = free-range eggs 2 = deep litter indoor housing 3 = cage farming). There are also EU voluntary marketing standards for poultry meat, which includes reference to types of farming.There are currently a dozen different labelling schemes on farm animal welfare in at least six European countries.

In its Farm to Fork Strategy published in May 2020, the EU Commission referred to labelling as “a central instrument to provide consumers high-quality information, regarding the sustainability level of food production, the nutritional value of food items, as well as consumer information related to animal welfare”. On 15 June 2020, the European Commission established, under the EU Platform on Animal Welfare, a sub-group on animal welfare labelling. The sub-group will assist the Commission in collecting data on previous experiences on animal welfare labelling. The European Commission is going to start a study on animal welfare labelling in 2021, leading to a proposal following this.

On December 15 2020, the Council of the European Union on Agriculture and Fisheries adopted a joint position that asks the European Commission to consider the development of a tiered transparent labelling scheme allowing for sufficient incentives for producers to improve animal welfare.

In a July 2020 survey of 25 of the 27 EU governments, only 15 prefer the implementation of an EU-wide animal welfare label through EU legislation.

The Eurobarometer survey from 2015 showed that 52% of European consumers look for labels that identify products from animal welfare-friendly production systems.

Will the EU have a mandatory multi-tiered animal welfare labelling scheme in place by 2025?

This will resolve positively if by the end of December 31st 2025 a mandatory EU animal welfare label is in force per credible media reporting or the EC Press corner.

The label must be multi-level and clearly distinguish between higher and lower standards. It must be required on all products for at least chickens, pigs, and cows and include information about the entire process of the method of production (rearing, transport, slaughter) . A label similar to prospective labels such as Haltungsform (Germany), Lidl UK’s method-of-production labelling for poultry meat and the Etiquette bien-être animal (France) can be used as a benchmark.

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