What I didn’t know about humane food

I’ve always considered myself a bit of an animal welfare nerd. Given I work for the RSPCA, in the companion animal space, I was pretty sure my knowledge was above average at least.

But having listened to the inaugural season of RSPCA Australia’s Humane Food Podcast, I’ve realised that there were loads of farm animal welfare facts and issues that I wasn’t really aware of when it comes to farm animals.

The good news is, over seven episodes, the Humane Food Podcast delivers bite-sized pieces of information in an engaging format, and I feel more informed than ever!

If you’re someone who likes to know where your food comes from, are concerned about farm animal welfare, and want to know what the status of the farming sector is today, the Humane Food Podcast is for you.

Here are my highlights from the podcast, episode by episode:

Episode one – what is humane food?

I personally am a vegetarian – but most of the people I know still consume meat, fish, eggs and dairy, and it’s important to me that farm animals experience good animal welfare within the system. This episode is really informative about what the RSPCA considers good farming practices for animal welfare, as well as the organisation’s involvement in farm animal welfare. One of the key things I learned about was the way that animals’ behavioural needs impact on their welfare – as well as not experiencing physical pain or suffering, it’s important animals that are farmed can exhibit their natural behaviours in the environments they are raised in.

Episode two – why cage-free will end the battery cage

I’ve always thought that when it comes to eggs, the choices are between free range or cage eggs.  But this episode talks through what ‘cage free’ egg production entails, and how it improves layer hen welfare. It also has a great interview with Matt Howe from Three Beans Coffee, who shows how businesses can improve animal welfare by sourcing higher welfare ingredients.

Episode three – what is RSPCA Approved?

I know there are people who don’t really understand why the RSPCA has an Approved Farming Scheme, and this episode is really helpful in terms of explaining the mission behind the Scheme and how it works. For example, it explains how the RSPCA undertakes on-farm audits to make sure the Standards are being upheld on RSPCA Approved farms.

Episode four – Better chicken welfare: where has the industry come from?

I found it really interesting to hear from Louise Cordina from Cordina farms on the meat chicken industry and the changes we’ve seen for chicken welfare over the years. Did you know that on average, Australians eat 49kg of chicken a year?

Episode five – the deal with veal and how we can improve bobby calf welfare

I’ve known about bobby calves in the dairy industry for some time, but I didn’t understand how raising these calves for veal could be better for animal welfare. This episode really breaks it down, and explains how calves raised for veal are raised for up to eight months with better welfare conditions, as opposed to being killed at birth or slaughtered at 5 days old.

Episode six – How a supermarket can lead the way in improving pig welfare

This episode includes an interview with James Whittaker from Coles, on how and why they brought RSPCA Approved pork to Aussies nationally. It’s pretty interesting to see what a huge shift this has caused in terms of pig welfare across the country.

Episode seven – how are farm animals slaughtered in Australia?

Farm animal slaughter is way more complicated than I realised. This episode helped me understand all of the steps to the process, including transport and stunning. It also broke down what the situation is in Australia when it comes to religious and non-stun slaughter.

Overall, listening to the Humane Food podcast was informative, challenging at times, and left me feeling like I had a better understanding of farm animal welfare. You can listen to the whole season here, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and remember to stay tuned for more episodes to come.

Want more? You’ve been schooled – everything you need to know about salmon or Coles free range RSPCA Approved chicken – ranging further across Australia

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