Survey finds consumers want clearer animal welfare labels on meat products

68% of people want labels to show the conditions of how animals were reared and slaughtered, currently only eggs are legally required to show the conditions of the hens.

Published

More than two thirds of customers say they want labels on meat and dairy products to show where animals were raised and how they were slaughtered a survey has show.

A survey of 2,000 people commissioned by Compassion in World Farming found that 68% wanted labels to show the conditions in which animals were reared.

Currently only eggs have a compulsory system to clarify to consumers how they were produce. Egg boxes must carry labels stating whether they are from battery or free range hens. This requirement boosted sales of free range eggs by 50% and all major supermarkets have promised to phase out battery farmed eggs by 2025.

A government led consultation closes today on whether it should be compulsory to put welfare labels revealing if the animals were reared in indoor factory farms and whether they stunned before being killed.

Another survey by the National Secular Society (NSS) also found 72% of people wanted labels to show how animals were slaughtered.

Nearly 75% of shoppers do not realise that there is no requirement by law to label meat as coming from unstunned animals.

Abattoirs are required to pre-stun animals to minimise suffering but there is a religious exemption for meat intended for Jewish people and Muslims. All kosher meat certified in the UK is from animals that were not stunned.

More than 120 million animals were slaughtered without pre-stunning at abattoirs in England in the 12 months to September 2018, according to analysis of Food Standards Agency figures by the British Veterinary Association.

These numbers include 118 million chickens, 3 million sheep and goats and 24,000 cattle.

The vast majority were slaughtered using the Muslim halal method. Most halal meat sold in the UK is from animals that have had some form of stunning but vets are questioning wether these methods are actually effective.

Most people (58%) believe that the religious exemption from the requirement to stun animals should be removed, according to the NSS survey. Only 14 per cent supported the exemption being retained.