THE British Veterinary Association (BVA) has produced an infographic illustrating the animal welfare credentials of seven UK farm assurance schemes to help people understand food labels and make informed choices about the food they eat.
Vets have a strong professional and personal engagement in farm assurance schemes. A recent BVA survey showed that nine in 10 vets felt farm assurance schemes make a positive contribution to animal health and welfare in the UK and that 58 per cent of vets consider scheme approval always or most of the time when buying their food.
Farm assurance schemes rely on veterinary knowledge and expertise in the development and review of standards and the provision of on-farm assessments of animal health and welfare for accreditation.
The infographic sets out BVA’s priorities for farm animal welfare and indicates whether or not the schemes address these priorities in their standards.
All seven schemes in the infographic meet the criteria for three of these priorities: they are all underpinned by veterinary expertise, support responsible use of antimicrobials and have measures in place to prevent the spread of disease.
In addition, all those that do provide assurance for slaughter require animals to be stunned before slaughter, which is a policy priority for BVA.
The British Veterinary Association’s John Fishwick said: “The provenance and welfare credentials of our food is becoming increasingly important in our shopping choices.
“More and more people want to know about the health and welfare credentials of the animal-derived food they buy such as meat, eggs and dairy products.
“Vets can help the public engage with farm assurance schemes and make informed choices about how to use them in line with their own views on ethics and sustainability.
“In order to translate veterinary knowledge on animal health and welfare into a practical guide to help people understand and assess farm assurance schemes, BVA has developed an infographic that sets out our priorities for farm animal welfare for people to use when considering farm-assured food.
“The infographic is not intended to be a league table but to allow people to understand what aspects of animal health and welfare are addressed by assurance schemes so that they can decide which scheme best aligns with their own individual preferences and priorities.
“We very much hope that this infographic raises awareness of the value of farm assurance schemes and proves to be a useful tool when choosing and buying food.”
The infographic is based on BVA’s policy position on farm assurance, which has been developed as part of BVA’s Animal Welfare Strategy.