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Animal welfare certification around the world

The United Kingdom: Freedom Food

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA…) was the first humane society to initiate an animal welfare certification program and it has become the blueprint for interested humane societies and SPCA… around the world. Animal welfare certification programs provide an alternative for consumers who wish to buy food that is made from animals raised in a more humane way than the normal intensive confinement systems.

The non-profit program was implemented in 2004 with standards based on veterinary and scientific research as well as practical farming experience. The standards themselves revolve around the five freedoms developed by the British Farm Animal Welfare Council in 1979, revised in 1993. They include the freedoms from hunger and thirst; from discomfort; from pain; to express normal behaviour; and from fear and distress.

The program has over 2, 200 members and includes farmers, haulers, processors, and abattoirs, who are certified. To become certified they must apply and be audited, and are inspected every year to ensure standards are met.

The United States: Free Farmed

Free Farmed, also modeled after the RSPCA’s Freedom Food in the UK, was introduced by the American Humane Association (AHA…) in 2000. Standards are created by a team of scientists, animal professionals and producers and are revised on a regular basis as new information and technology becomes available.

The standards for farm animals include the freedom to enjoy a healthy life, live in a humane environment free from stress, access fresh water and a healthy diet and express normal behaviours. Animals must be raised in a cage-free environment and must be handled by well-trained staff who genuinely care about the welfare of the animals.

The United States: Certified Humane Raised & Handled

This animal welfare certification program was developed by Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC…) in 2003 and is supported by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS…), among others. Standards for this program include the prohibition of added antibiotics or hormones in animals’ diets, sufficient space and shelter so animals can perform natural behaviours, humane handling, compliance with the American Meat Institute Standards, and compliance with local, state and federal environmental standards.

The United States Department of Agriculture verifies the process and HFAC… has the right to revoke the certification of those who break their contract. Certification is modeled on the RSPCA’s Freedom Food label and must be renewed every year.

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