Farm Animal Welfare Council
Summary of open meeting on 14 June 2006
1. Professor Wathes, Chairman of the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC), welcomed everyone. He said that the purpose of the meeting was to inform key stakeholders about the forthcoming and previous year’s work and to allow them to voice their concerns about farm animal welfare. He thanked Martin Potter, Eddie Harper and John Don who left FAWC at the end of 2005. He welcomed Alison Ward, David Main, Huw Davies and Sandra Edwards, who were appointed to FAWC at the beginning of 2006, and David Foot who had recently been appointed as the new FAWC Secretary. He thanked Kumu Adihetty, who retired at the end of March, and Richard Aram for standing in until David Foot took up his post.
2. The Chairman gave an outline of the current FAWC structure and workload as follows:
3. Professor Reiss thanked the Council, Working Group Members, stakeholders and the Secretariat for their contributions towards the report. Within the UK we need to take into account both EU and international law in respect of food labelling. The issue of welfare labelling is moving up the EU and international political agenda and is now more feasible. The fear that a mandatory system would be considered a technical barrier to trade under WTO/GATT agreements is receding. There are some examples of schemes that are helping to improve farm animal welfare, particularly the labelling of eggs within the EU. This started as a voluntary scheme but became mandatory within 7 years. In Switzerland battery systems are illegal and imported eggs produced in cage systems are required to be labelled as such. This has not been challenged in the WTO.
4. There are two arguments in favour of welfare labelling – 1). It is good for animals. 2). It is good for consumers enabling them to make choices when purchasing food. Recent surveys from the Co-op suggest that the introduction of a labelling system will not immediately lead to massive changes. It is difficult to predict the effects of either mandatory or voluntary labelling schemes when extrapolating from one country across the EU and worldwide. It is therefore too early for FAWC to make specific recommendations on the type of scheme that should be used. However, it could take the form of a simple tick (eg Freedom Food – where the product is either in or out of the scheme), gold silver or bronze, red amber or green etc. Examples of existing labelling schemes are in appendix one of the report.
5. Any labelling scheme should be done from the animal’s point of view with some form of measure across its entire lifetime. This raises questions on how a scheme could be weighted. For example, an animal may have had a good upbringing but may have had a bad journey to slaughter. It should also be based on welfare outcomes and apply both to domestic products and to imports. We would also like to include processed composite products but appreciate that this would be difficult. We have also recommended that public agencies purchase food derived from farm animals that have had better lives.
6. Mr Masood Khawaja – Halal Food Authority: Need
to see reports earlier if we are to make comments.
7. Dr Mike Appleby – World Society for the Protection of
Animals: Said he was encouraged by what he had heard and thought
that welfare labelling could give advantages to farmers and will not necessarily
be an additional cost to them. It will also create opportunities for overseas
producers to import welfare friendly products into the UK. Suggest that
the EuroFAWC initiative should establish links with other international
8. Dr Alan Long – VEGA: The report does not take
account of what is happening in supermarkets that dominate this type of
9. Ms Julie Roxburgh – Shellfish Network: Note
that the report refers to labelling in relation to all farm animal products
including those from rendering on page 6. Would this include the gelatin
used in children’s sweets?
10. Dr Syed Aziz Pasha - Union of Muslim Organisations of UK
and EIRE: Would like to see labelling of GM foods.
11. Ms Rita Bloomberg – Vegetarian Economy and Green Agriculture
(VEGA): It is excellent that the report is written from the animals
point of view. How would a scheme account for the experience of the dairy
cow where its calf is taken away for export much to its distress?
12. Professor Morton said that the Welfare Strategy Working Group was formed to look at an ethically based framework for farm animal welfare over the next 20 years. This would be addressed to Ministers, farmers and those others working in the sector. FAWC needs to consider how the framework could be set up, and in doing so we need to look at animal outputs and how we can promote more positive farm animal welfare. The Five Freedoms refer to basic needs and in addition we need to emphasise that poor health is a welfare issue. We also need to look at the avoidance of disease and mutilations, longer-term analgesia for farm animals and the promotion of animal health and welfare planning and how to embed this in stockmen.
13. Rev A L Birkbeck – Asked whether any progress
had been made over animal sentience versus profit.
14. Dr Alan Long – VEGA – Said that perinatal
mortality and mastitis could be measured by vets and the results could
be reported to Ministers and that a scoring system should be used for
broiler production which should be shown on labels.
15. Mr Henderson said that the poultry industry in the UK was huge with hundreds of millions of birds. Larger poultry processors can slaughter birds at a rate of 10000 per hour. FAWC last reported on the slaughter of birds twenty years ago and a review of the process was now due. FAWC considers that the principles that should be applied to ensure good welfare at slaughter are:
The report on the slaughter of red meat animals was published in 2003 and the same group is looking at white meat animals. The report will look at killing by a number of different methods including electrical stunning and gassing and also casualty and emergency killing (which may be required in the case of avian influenza). There will be further visits to look at slaughter methods, meetings with researchers and stakeholders before the report is published next year.
16. Julie Roxburgh – Shellfish Network: Pleased
to see that the slaughter of poultry is being picked up. Male chicks are
usually destroyed shortly after hatching – how will this be assessed?
17. Rev A L Birkbeck: End of lay hens have little economic value and some abattoirs are not interested in handling them which may cause a welfare concern. FAWC Reply: The white meat slaughter will be looking at this issue.
18. Paul Berry – Paul Berry Associates:
Will FAWC be looking at other systems abroad?
19. Dr Mike Appleby – World Society for
the Protection of Animals: End of lay hens are not covered by
the Slaughter Act. Suggest a clarification of the word “slaughter”.
Should be “the humane killing of all animals”.
20. Michelle Cole – Trading Standards: Most catchers
of hens are not English speaking. The new transport Regulation covers
packing animals in crates. However it does not cover driver competence
in loading lorries.
21. Mr Frank Momber – National Beef Association:
Noted from the review that FAWC had considered Bovine Tuberculosis. Had
any conclusions been drawn?
22. Ms Rita Bloomberg – VEGA: Said that TB is
far more prevalent in dairy herds – this says something about the
strain that the dairy cow is under.
23. Mr Geoffrey Hollis: Asked about the speed of the
Government response to FAWC Reports.
24. Dr Mike Appleby – World Society for the Protection
of Animals: Asked whether FAWC reviews or follows up its reports.
25. Mr Masood Khawaja – Halal Food Authority:
How do we ensure that imported products are in compliance with our welfare
26. Julie Roxburgh – Shellfish Network: Note the
resumption of live exports and asked for FAWC’s views.
27. Dr Alan Long – VEGA: In connection with the
Welfare Labelling Report consumers do not necessarily want to know the
details about how an animal is slaughtered but prefer ”cosy”
terms like “free range”. The consumption of shell eggs slumped
in the 1990’s. They have been remarketed with terms like free range
and the consumption has gone up.
28. Dr Victoria Sandilands – Scottish Centre for Animal
Welfare Science: Asked about the circumstances in which ventilation
shutdown would be used, in the event of an outbreak of avian influenza,
as a method of poultry slaughter.
|Last modified 11 July, 2006|
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