Free range pork and turkey

The lack of a clear definition of free range makes it difficult for consumers to know exactly how Australian free-range meat is farmed
Learn more

03.RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme

ONLINE_FreeRange_RSPCALogoThe RSPCA’s Approved Farming Scheme (AFS) covers meat chickens, layer hens (eggs), pork and turkey, offering what the society calls higher welfare accreditation. 

It has two levels of accreditation: “indoor”, where animals live entirely in sheds and aren’t required to have outdoor access, and “outdoor”, where animals must have outside access.

For a company to be allowed by the RSPCA to use the term “free range” on packaging, it must meet the society’s outdoor welfare standards.

“The RSPCA started the scheme because it was unhappy with the lack of legislation around welfare and found certain farming practices unacceptable,” says the RSPCA’s Melina Tensen.

The aim of the scheme, she says, is to improve welfare for as many animals as possible. Coles and Primo both have RSPCA accreditation for their fresh pork products.

But some have accused the RSPCA’s outdoor scheme of misleading consumers, citing the fact that piglets raised primarily in a shed with outdoor access are closer to “bred free” (see Jargon Buster) than free range, where pigs are often outdoors all the time. In response, RSPCA says its scheme is focused on improved welfare, whether it be in indoor, outdoor or combination systems. 

So just because pork is tagged with an RSPCA logo doesn’t guarantee it’s free range.You also have to look for “free range” on its packaging to be sure it has come from pigs raised to RSPCA standards on farms where they have access to the outdoors and where compliance is assessed every six months.

Coles moves on welfare

In January 2013, Coles announced its home-brand fresh pork, ham and bacon would be sow stall free. But critics have noted the ban doesn’t extend to farrowing crates, and in all other respects the pork is still conventionally farmed.

Coles Finest Free Range Pork certified by the RSPCA is a more substantial welfare measure guaranteeing the pigs have outdoor access. But unlike some other certification programs, the animals are not outdoors all the time.


Sign up to our free

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.

Your say - Choice voice

Make a Comment

Members – Sign in on the top right to contribute to comments