'Freedom' label to curb animal suffering

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The Independent Online
CONSUMERS were yesterday urged to 'vote with their shopping trolleys' in an initiative aimed at saving Britain's 750 million farm animals unnecessary suffering and guaranteeing them better conditions, writes David Nicholson-Lord.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is spending pounds 750,000 on the launch of the Freedom Food trademark, describing it as the biggest certification scheme of its type. It has the support of two of the biggest retailers, Tesco and the Co-op, which will carry the mark on eggs and bacon and free-range pork. The scheme is expected to expand and the mark will be extended to sheep and cattle next year.

The circular logo with the words 'Freedom Food - RSPCA Monitored' guarantees that pigs are not tethered and can root about, hens have a perch, a quiet nesting area and can bathe in the dust, and no animal is transported for longer than eight hours. Conditions will be verified by RSPCA-approved assessors. Businesses will pay royalties for the mark to finance the scheme and fund farm animal welfare research.

The RSPCA estimates the products may cost up to 10 per cent more initially.