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Freedom Food Outed in the UK

Last week, British television aired a film showing neglect and abuse of pigs, turkeys and ducks sold under the ethical label, Freedom Food, which is a program of the The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Freedom Food is similar in substance to Whole Foods’ upcoming Animal Compassionate label and the Certified Humane Raised and Handled label here in the US. Essentially, the labels claim to certify that the meat was in some way “ethically produced.” And they come with a price tag significantly higher than non-ethically produced meat. The farms involved have been suspended from Freedom Food, according the RSPCA’s official response to the footage. An RSPCA spokesperson said that the ideals of Freedom Food are just that: they’re “aspirations” rather than guarantees.

The pressing question in light of the Freedom Food scandal is: Will the US have similar monitoring and enforcement problems? And the pressing question in general is: Will the labels lead to an increase or decrease in meat-eating?

Update: Gary Francione explains how the scandal is viewed by abolitionists (people who consider veganism the moral baseline and consider any use of animals unethical). He also gets into why welfarist campaigns contradict the goal of abolition, and why the status of animals as property is such an important issue. He just might change the way you think about veganism and where you should put your activist dollars and time.


  1. Comment by


    on #

    It seems inevitable that we will have similar monitoring and enforcement problems in the US-and as we saw in the UK example, there is essentially no accountability when the curtain of delusion is pulled back to reveal the awful truth. The best we get is an RSPCA spokesperson explaining that the ideals of the label are “aspirations.”
    I agree Mary, that the pressing question is “will the labels lead to an increase or decrease in meat-eating?” I believe these kind of labels will undoubtably lead to an increase in meat-eating. In essense, these labels serve to make people feel better about eating meat. If the idea of “ethical meat” is reinforced not only by the meat industries, but also by the “animal groups” that stick a “humane” label on a slab of dead animal, why on earth would anyone be inspired to actually give up meat?
    Of course, most people reading this are aware that these labels are meaningless marketing gimmicks, but most consumers will be duped into believing them, especially when the label has the stamp of approval from animal advocate groups. We couldn’t possibly do more to confuse the issue if we tried!
    It really defies reason to claim that these labels could possibly lead to a decrease in meat consumption.

  2. Comment by


    on #

    Well at least if people start thinking that “ethical” is something important, it will get them thinking and looking into the issue. Also if meat can be more expensive, less will be purchased.

    But I am concerned that the very idea that it is possible to produce meat ethically/environmentally (grassfed organic) will stop people from breaking free of the habit of eating meat. Even if such meat is only 1% of the market and rarely purchased, the fact that it exists may cause some people to forgo going vegetarian.