Why would I include animal welfare groups in this series of articles about UK food labelling?
We have seen some excellent farm animal welfare campaigns, like the River Cottage Chicken Out campaign but unless these campaigns are long term and sustained (ie constantly nagging us rather than something we can easily forget tomorrow) they will only reach the already converted.
Where large organisations such as CIWF or RSPCA have an advantage is they are easily recognisable by the public, reach all social classes and people tend to trust their opinion, knowing their campaigns are based on animal welfare issues.
I don’t want to get into a verbal bun fight about the Freedom Foods investigation by 5 News as this article is about food labelling and not farm animal welfare per-se.
CIWF and River Cottage recently teamed up on the campaign for better labelling of chicken meat and welfare conditions for chickens. The CIWF campaign is largely focussed on the honest labelling of chicken meat, whereas the River Cottage Chicken Out campaign targets the welfare of chickens aspect.
This campaign now has over 200 MP’s signed up for EDM 581 (an Early Day Motion in Parliament on the welfare and labelling of chickens) so is on course for really implementing change.
Of course these organisations have an uphill battle. The paradox they face is that only a small percentage of consumers are willing to pay the price of organic food produced by members of the Soil Association and yet a high majority of the British public are concerned about farm animal welfare and honest food labelling.
The public are concerned about the issue but don’t want to pay higher food prices and would much prefer someone else to do something about the current problems .. it’s basically apathy, as consumers have for so many issues these days.
On the CIWF website they offer a free compassionate shopping guide which you can download and print off. You can also find out if your local MP has signed the EDM and if not get writing and ask them to.
The question we should be asking ourselves is why do these groups need to campaign at all? Why do we, as consumers, have to take a guide book with us when we go shopping? Shouldn’t that in itself be a huge red flag saying our food labelling is totally misleading.
Our government is responsible for ensuring we are making informed choices and at the moment they are failing miserably. Food labelling is not a new concern and our membership of the EU and CAP has contributed significantly to the food labelling fiasco we now face.