If you purchase animal-based food products, making sense of labels can often seem like an exercise in trust. And it’s not helpful that we’re seeing more and more greenwashing and misleading marketing terms across a range of industries, especially food. So we understand that, for conscious consumers looking for higher-welfare products, it can be tough to figure out what really means better animal welfare.
This is why a robust certification program is important. With a good certification program, the logo on the packaging is actually the result of a stringent process – a process that ensures the item has been produced in accordance with specific standards and values.
For animal-based products, we know that consumers want to be able to trust that the animals have been raised with welfare as a priority – including an environment that provides a better quality of life.
And many of the marketing terms and labels that we see don’t, and can’t, give this full picture. But an easy-to-recognise logo from a good certification program can give consumers that quick assurance in a few seconds.
So, what’s important for a good certification program?
Make sure it has the big four.
When it comes to how animals are farmed in Australia, standards and practices can vary between farming systems and individual producers, with many methods of (often painful) husbandry procedures legal, but not necessarily best for animal welfare.
That’s why we recommend looking for four key features in a certification program: detailed standards that are publicly available, regular auditing and independence.
Having a detailed set of standards provides the foundation for a certification program which all other aspects can be measured against. For RSPCA Approved, that means standards (which are regularly reviewed) that focus on addressing the physical and behavioural needs of the animal and are animal-specific, as different species have different needs.
Standards should be publicly available, so that those that want to know more can find information easily and at any time. That’s why the RSPCA Approved standards, as well as accompanying material, are publicly available on our website.
Equally as important is the inclusion of a regular auditing process. With RSPCA Approved, once a Producer achieves certification after initial assessments, it doesn’t end there. There’s a stringent and multilayered process for ongoing certification which involves Assessors and Certification Team members that are part of the Certification Body.
Lastly, a good certification program will be independent to remain objective and solely focused on the program’s mission, without influence from other parties. The RSPCA Certification Body within the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme acts independently to the rest of the organisation, to ensure the decisions they’re making are focused solely on the animal welfare requirements.
Why is all this important?
As a consumer, you can drive change for some of Australia’s most intensively farmed animals through your purchasing choices. Retailers look for trends in purchasing behaviour to determine what to stock in their stores and to align their businesses with the issues and values consumers care about.
Marketing material or labels often don’t give the whole picture – but with a robust certification program like RSPCA Approved, you’re in a much better position to know the full story about where your food comes from.
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