Make Way: the Animal Husbandry Label is Coming

Cem Özdemir: Big steps forward for future-proof animal husbandry

The two German chambers of Parliament (Bundestag and Bundesrat) paved the way for a mandatory state animal husbandry label that was presented by Federal Minister Özdemir. The legislation entered into force in August 2023. It is intended to provide transparency and clarity on how animals are kept and to enable consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.

The animal husbandry label differentiates between five types of animal husbandry: indoor housing; indoor+space; indoor with fresh air; outdoor runs/pasture; and organic. As a first step, the Act sets out regulations for fattening pigs; it is intended to be rapidly expanded to include, inter alia, other animal species, other areas of the processing chain, for example the restaurant and catering sector, and processed products. For more information, please see the press release.

The aim is for consumers to be able to see at a glance how the animals were kept on farms in Germany. To this end, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) has drafted the Act on Animal Husbandry Labelling, which establishes a mandatory and transparent animal husbandry labelling system for foods of animal origin originating from Germany.

In addition to this, the Act on Animal Husbandry Labelling created a voluntary option for food from other EU Member States and third countries to be labelled as well.

Basic information on animal husbandry labelling

  • Consumers wish to have more information on how the animals used to produce their food were kept.
  • The mandatory animal husbandry labelling system therefore requires by law that, when certain foods of animal origin are put on sale to final customers, the label indicates the conditions under which the animals used to produce the food were kept.
  • The animal husbandry label provides consumers with neutral information about how the animals were kept. So the certificate is not a judgemental label.
  • The first step will be to label pork: fresh, chilled, frozen / prepacked and non-prepacked / food retail and wholesale businesses, service counters, speciality shops, online retail.
  • It is then planned to swiftly expand the labelling to include other animal species, the restaurant and catering sector and processed products.
  • The labelling will be based on the conditions under which animals are kept during the so-called 'productive period of life'; in the case of meat, this is the fattening period.

Information on types of husbandry

  • The label will distinguish between five different types of husbandry: indoor housing; indoor+space; indoor with fresh air; outdoor runs/ free range; and organic.
    • Indoor housing: during fattening, the animals are kept in line with the minimum legal standards.
    • Indoor+space: the pigs have at least 12.5 percent more space compared with the minimum legal standards. The pens must contain coarse fodder, in addition to the occupational material, and be structured to include different elements, for example partitions, different levels, and areas with different temperatures or lighting conditions.
    • Indoor with fresh air: the outdoor climate in each pen has a significant effect on the sty climate. The pigs have access to different areas with different climates at all times.
    • Outdoor runs/pasture: the pigs must be provided with an outdoor run which is accessible all day, or kept outdoors all day with no permanent housing. The outdoor run may be interrupted briefly for the necessary duration of the cleaning process or for a short period, insofar as this is absolutely necessary in individual cases for reasons of animal welfare.
    • Organic: The livestock husbandry meets the requirements of the EU Regulation on Organic Farming. This means an even larger outdoor run and even more space in the pigsty.

Background information

The Act on Animal Husbandry Labelling was adopted by the German Bundestag on 16 June 2023. The Act came into effect on 24 August 2023.

The German Bundestag’s Committee on Food and Agriculture adopted the draft Act on Animal Husbandry Labelling on 19 April 2023. The draft presented by Federal Minister Cem Özdemir was debated in its first reading in the Bundestag on 15 December 2022.

Creating incentives and promoting investment in good husbandry conditions

Irrespective of the animal husbandry label, farmers who offer their animals particularly humane husbandry conditions and convert the housing for their livestock accordingly should receive financial support. The BMEL will flank and support farmers in the transition towards more animal welfare, environmental protection and climate change mitigation.

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