Animal welfare assessed and labeled in supermarkets –

There is now a labeling system for meat in supermarkets that rates animal welfare. Launched by Lidl in 2021 and developed by the Swiss Animal Protection, it is simply called “Animal Welfare Assessment”.

Similar to the nutriscore system, the ratings on the labels of the animal welfare evaluation system of the Swiss Animal Protection (SAP) range from A (excellent) to D (poor), and from green to red. They are currently found on around 100 unprocessed food items in the Lidl supermarket, such as fresh meat and eggs.

Lidl’s choice to partner with the Swiss Animal Protection is considered: the association had already developed an analysis tool. The company complied with his demands, without negotiation. “Lidl knew that we had already prepared these criteria, on which we did not want to compromise. There was therefore no discussion”, specifies Cesare Sciarra, director of the competence center for production animals at the Swiss Protection of animals.

Strict requirements

Interviewed on the program On en parle, Cesare Sciarra explains the criteria on which the assessment of the animal welfare associated with the products is based: “the most important thing is the conditions in which the animals are kept. For example, the stables must have straw bedding and structures allowing animals to behave normally, such as going out into the open air and grazing We also have standards for slaughterhouses and animal transport conditions We carry out checks and daily audits in labeled farms.”

Conversely, if the animals walk on wooden or rubber gratings, laying hens are caged, or if the animals do not have access to the open air, the score will be poor.

Better, but insufficient Swiss legislation

Surprisingly, the majority of meats at Lidl, even Swiss, received the average grade of C. Swiss legislation not so strict, or demanding criteria? “It depends on the country with which we compare Switzerland”, replies Cesare Sciarra. “In general, Swiss laws are better than those of other countries. But for us at Swiss Animal Protection, they are not enough. Only labeled products have a satisfactory level of animal protection.”

The director recalls that in France and Germany, most cows cannot leave their barns without straw. “They are also often tied up, which prevents them from behaving normally. As far as eggs are concerned, it is even worse: in Europe, it is legal to lock laying hens in cages for their entire lives. This is not the case in Switzerland.”

Eat with heart

This labeling system is based on another tool developed by the PSA, named “eat with heart”. The principle is the same: different labels compare the efforts of Swiss and foreign companies in the fields of retail and gastronomy to improve the situation and the welfare of animals. The products analyzed – meat, eggs and milk – are all on sale in Switzerland. Again, eggs and milk from Europe and the rest of the world should be avoided.

Lidl is not the only subsidiary wishing to bring more transparency on the subject of animal welfare. Migros recently changed its M-Check sustainability scale, with a slightly different system. The scale informs consumers about two aspects of production: animal welfare and environmental impact.

PSA is currently in discussions with other retailers to adopt their animal welfare rating system.

Radio subject and comments collected by Isabelle Fiaux

Web adaptation: ms

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