The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is backing calls for the introduction of food labels that “prove” the quality of a farm animal’s life and death – to give UK farmers “a unique selling point for their meat and dairy products post-Brexit”.

The BVA is supporting the Labelling Matters campaign – a partnership involving Compassion in World Farming, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Soil Association – in calling for a mandatory method of production labelling for meat and dairy products across the European Union.

According to the BVA, the labelling initiative would help UK consumers answer “simple questions” such as how an animal has been kept and whether it died a humane death.

“A key element of the Labelling Matters campaign is that mandatory method of production labelling must be underpinned by robust welfare outcome safeguards, with on-farm welfare assessments ensuring that high welfare standards are being achieved,” the BVA said. “Legislation for mandatory method of production labelling has been implemented already for shell eggs, which must legally be labelled either as ‘eggs from caged hens’, ‘barn eggs’, ‘free range’ or ‘organic’. Labelling Matters wants to see this principle extended to meat and dairy products from other farmed animals.”

BVA president Sean Wensley said: “For vets, it’s a top priority that the animals we rear for food have a good life and a humane death. Mandatory method of production labelling makes sense on a number of fronts: consumers can be clearly and consistently informed about how the animals reared for their meat and dairy products were kept, with on-farm welfare assessments assuring high standards.

“Mandatory method of production labelling would give unambiguous information to the high numbers of consumers who care about animal welfare when buying meat and dairy products and help ensure market support for British farmers who pride themselves on achieving the highest welfare standards.”

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According to the BVA, its own “Voice of the Veterinary Profession” survey found “94% of vets believe UK consumers of meat and fish should be better informed about slaughter methods”.