The BMEL supports introduction of an independent animal welfare label

Growing numbers of consumers attach particular importance to high animal welfare standards in the production of animal-based foods. In order to strengthen consumer confidence in livestock farming, processes must be explained and information needs to be provided on the realities of production. Trust can be built up by ensuring openness and transparency along the entire production chain.

Voluntary animal welfare labelling is intended to provide consumers with a way of recognising products that are produced in compliance with particularly high animal welfare standards. At the same time, it allows producers on the one hand to meet the demand for this type of product, and on the other to command the higher prices needed to cover the required investments. Producers in Germany can thus develop new market segments and tap into new markets.

The German Animal Welfare Association identified this opportunity and, in alliance with partners from industry, academia and the extension services, took the initiative for the development of a two-level animal welfare label (basic level, premium level). The BMEL supported the development of the basic level of the voluntary animal welfare label for fattening pigs by providing a corresponding research project with one million Euros in funding. The German Animal Welfare Association's label is used - now throughout Germany - to label products of animal origin. The labelling is based on high standards that provide more animal welfare for housed animals. For consumers, the animal welfare label creates more transparency and choice when shopping. In the long run, criteria for the awarding of the animal welfare label are to be developed for all areas of animal husbandry.

On the website for the animal welfare label citizens can determine with a search by location and post-guide number where they can buy products with the label "For More Animal Welfare" nearby.

More products with the animal welfare label

Christian Schmidt, Mark Rosenkranz and Thomas Schröder present the animal welfare label Federal Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt and Mark Rosenkranz (from left, spokesperson of the board of EDEKA Minden-Hannover) and Thomas Schröder (president of the German Animal Welfare Association) during the certification, Source: Deutscher Tierschutzbund e.V.

On the occasion of the certification of additional pig fattening farms for the premium level of the Deutscher Tierschutzbund e.V. (German Animal Welfare Association) on 14 January 2015 in Berlin, Federal Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt said: "Consumers in Germany know that animal welfare is worth its price. I am delighted that a growing number of products are being marketed with the German Animal Welfare Association's animal welfare label, including the premium level. This allows consumers to deliberately choose to support better animal protection when they go shopping.

The German Animal Welfare Association and EDEKA Minden-Hannover outlined their cooperation in the presence of Federal Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt. To begin with, the company concluded supply contracts with 8 organic pig producers that also changed their production processes to meet the criteria of the premium level of the German Animal Welfare Association's animal welfare label.

The improvement in animal husbandry means that the animals have a lot more space and are kept in pens with higher animal welfare standards.

As of 2016: Animal welfare label for laying hens

Since January 2016 consumers have been able to find the German Animal Welfare Association's animal welfare label on egg packaging too. Holdings which marketed their eggs as "Controlled Alternative Animal Husbandry (KAT) Animal welfare tested" before may now bear the two-level animal welfare label developed by the German Animal Welfare Association.

The transfer of the "Animal welfare tested" symbol belonging to the Association for Controlled Alternative Animal Husbandry (KAT) onto the German Animal Welfare Association's animal welfare label means that a consumer now only has to be guided by one uniform symbol, namely the animal welfare label of the German Animal Welfare Association, rather than by two different ones.

The requirements that have to be fulfilled in rearing laying hens in order to bear the animal welfare label include: For both levels of the label the animals must have access to manipulable material, beak trimming is banned at both levels, a stocking rate of seven animals (instead of nine) per square metre, at the first level a so-called winter garden, an uninsulated roofed area with litter as a transition to the free range area, is required and at premium level an outdoor area of four square metres per bird is also required.

BMEL in favour of the animal welfare label

The BMEL continues to support the introduction of an animal welfare label at European level. EU animal welfare labelling would have the advantage of providing a standardised framework with strong credibility among all consumers in the common market. At international level, it would underline the high quality of agricultural production in the EU. In addition the EU could emphasise its pioneering role for international animal welfare.

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© Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture