Free-range meat - is it all equal?

If you buy free-range, how do you make sure you get what you pay for?
 
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  • Updated:6 Mar 2007
 

06.Humane Choice scheme

Humane Choice logoThis new labelling scheme is about to hit supermarkets by mid 2007. It was developed by the Australian arm of the Humane Society International (HSI) in response to people asking them which meat was the best to buy in terms of animal welfare, and because of the lack of clarity around free-range labels and the lack of national free-range standards.

HSI says it previously recommended people buy certified organic produce, but its own standards go further in ensuring that farm animals have the best life and most humane death possible. For example:

  • Humane Choice bans some contentious practices that HSI thinks organic standards overlook, such as mulesing sheep in some circumstances and nose-ringing pigs (which prevents them from rooting in the earth — a natural pig behaviour).
  • It also has much stronger requirements for how animals are transported to slaughter, how long this can take and how long they can spend without water, for example.

According to HSI the Humane Choice label is designed to give consumers confidence that farm animals have the best life an animal should have. Farms using the Humane Choice labelling are audited to HSI standards by the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA) — an organic certification body that has been accredited by the Federal Government (AQIS) to certify organic agriculture.

Humane Choice is aiming to have its labelled products in supermarkets by mid 2007 — beef, chicken, eggs and some dairy products such as butter and yoghurt should be first off the rank, with lamb and pork to come later. Eventually it’s hoped the labelling scheme will also apply to many other products, such as milk, wool and leather.

 

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