You might have noticed a lot of logos and motives on your food which seem to relate to the way it was produced. But do you really know what they mean? What assurances do they give us about the food contained within and what promises do they make us?
Here are some of the most common ones and what they actually are telling us.
You are likely to have seen this before as it appears on around 80% of organic products. It covers a wide variety of items from food to toiletries. For companies to be allowed to use the symbol the Soil Associations carries out inspections and awards organic certification to farms and businesses that meet the standard. Organic food is produced with natural fertilisers from plants, less energy and more respect for the animals that provide it. It contains no artificial colourings or preservatives, is always free range, has no GM ingredients and no routine use of antibiotics is allowed.
When it comes to animal products this organic standard also offers many welfare benefits which go beyond standard industry practice. For example, it prohibits confinement systems, ensures bedding and environmental enrichment. It means the animal has had free-range access with shade and shelter. There are also guidelines for stunning, slaughter and welfare monitoring. Soil Association certified products must legally comply with the EU organic regulation, but also meet higher standards.
All organic food and drink sold in the EU has to meet the EU organic regulation, this is and you can tell by the green leaf logo. The Soil Association mark includes all these measures plus more.
RSPCA Assured is dedicated to improving welfare standards for farm animals and if you see its logo on your food then it has reached their standards which offer increased welfare benefits – compared to the standard industry. The mark can be found on meat, poultry, salmon, dairy and egg products from farm animals. The scheme covers both indoor and outdoor rearing systems ensuring greater space is provided and animals have access to bedding and enrichment materials as part of the Five Freedoms designed to improve animals lives. They are applied to each stage of an animal’s life, including rearing, handling, transportation and slaughter. The RSPCA maintains that their standards are more comprehensive than the welfare requirements of current UK and EU legislation. The mark does not mean the food has to be produced in the UK.
The Red Tractor mark can be found on chicken, pork, lamb, beef, fruit, vegetables, salad, flour, sugar and dairy products. It indicates that the food can be traced back to farms producing under Assured Food Standards (AFS). They have quality standards for food safety, hygiene, and the environment but mainly reflects standard industry practice. Some of the criteria goes beyond standard animal welfare legislation and there is a requirement for on-farm health and welfare monitoring.
This mark, a leaf with the word Leaf in the middle, is found on fresh, seasonal produce including fruit, vegetable, meat and even flowers. It confirms the food has been produced in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way. This ranges from managing hedgerows to provide habitats and food for wildlife, recycling farm waste, improving water quality, conserving energy and only using pesticides and fertilisers when absolutely necessary.
The Lion Mark
Found on eggs, the Lion Mark means they have met food safety criteria. But it doesn’t guarantee how the chickens were kept, for example it doesn’t mean they are free range – caged hens eggs can still get the Lion Mark.
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) mission is to safeguarded seafood for this and future generations through thoughtful management. Its ecolabel and certification program recognises and rewards sustainable fishing practices. Any product with the label means it’s fully traceable to a sustainable source, it’s the result of environmentally sustainable fishing.
The Free Range Dairy Network is aiming to promote the value of pasture based milk production to British dairy farms. It views this method of milk farming as the most secure for the environment and industry’s future. Any farmers using the mark promise to keep their cows in the fields for at least six months of the year. The Free Range Dairy Network guarantees that its Pasture Promise milk is processed and bottled separately from intensively farmed milk.