COPENHAGEN – In 2017, packages of pork will bear labels that indicate the level of welfare the pigs received after the government of Denmark approved a new animal welfare labeling scheme.
The label, ‘Bedre Dyrevelfærd’, translates to Better Animal Welfare. The scheme is voluntary and has three levels indicated by one to three hearts:
1 Heart for better animal welfare indicating free-range sows; curly tail/whole tails; more straw; more space; maximum 8 hours spent outdoors each day;
2 hearts indicating free-range sows; curly tail/whole tails; even more straw; even more space; maximum 8 hours spent outdoors each day; and
3 hearts for “much better animal welfare” indicating free-range sows; curly tail/whole tails; much more straw; much more space; maximum 8 hours spent outdoors each day; maximum 8 hours spent outdoors each day; faring in the open yard.
The Danish government said one heart means the brand’s basic animal welfare requirements have been met. Two and three hearts indicate that additional requirements for more space and outdoor area have been met.
Packages of pork bearing the new animal welfare label initially will go on sale at supermarkets such as Netto, Meny, Rema 1000, Kiwi, Spar, Lidl, Aldi and at butcher shops. The Danish government plans to expand the labeling scheme to other meat and poultry products in the future.
“We know that many Danes would like to give a little extra to support increased welfare, and the brand will provide people with the opportunity to have a direct impact on what kind of meat they can choose…” Environment and Food Minister Esben Lunde Larsen said in October when the label was revealed. Lunde Larsen said the label “…would make it more attractive for farmers to invest in animal welfare improvements on their farms [and] like the retail trade will be able to meet consumer demands for better animal welfare. This makes animal welfare a competitive factor in the entire industry.”
One retailer that won’t be participating in the labeling scheme is The Coop in Denmark, which recently launched its own animal welfare labeling system. The scheme will include meat, poultry and dairy products.
“We see it as our task to consumer advocacy,” Coop Denmark CEO Jens Visholm said in a statement. “Our labeling system is different and… creates a noticeable and significant improvement in animal welfare.”
The Coop’s labeling scheme also uses hearts to indicate the level of welfare. Products can have between one and four hearts, and the Coop system begins “at a level that is significantly higher than Danish law and practice” requires, according to the retailer. The Coop, in cooperation with Aarhus Univ. and Organic Denmark and Animal Protection, developed the criteria for animal welfare labeling system.