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SPCA Says “Free Range” Is No Guarantee Of Good Welfare

RNZSPCA – 22 February 2012

Recently a free-range layer hen farm in Martinborough was abandoned by the farmers. Many hens were left neglected, to fend for themselves. The SPCA wants to alert New Zealand consumers that term “free-range” is no guarantee of good animal welfare but simply a marketing term.

Robyn Kippenberger, National Chief Executive of the Royal New Zealand SPCA, confirms there are no legal definitions of any farming methods in New Zealand so unless farms are audited and checked regularly against specified standards there will always be room for poor welfare.

“Don’t be tricked by clever and confusing labelling of products” says Ms Kippenberger

“Marketing terms “free-to-roam”, “free-range” or “free-farmed” are no guarantee of good animal welfare without independent auditing and a third party trusted certification mark. Poor farming practices can lead to neglect such as seen in the free range farm in Martinborough. Events like this bring the whole industry into question”

The SPCA National Blue Tick accreditation scheme offers a system of specific standards and auditing to farmers wishing to ensure consumer confidence in their animal welfare practices. The Blue Tick logo on eggs, pork and chicken identifies these products have been farmed to high SPCA welfare requirements. Independent auditors visit farms regularly and have contractual agreement to spot audit without notice. Part of this transparent process makes the farming standards applied by farmers and auditors available for consumers to download from the Royal New Zealand SPCA website. http://rnzspca.org.nz/bluetick/blue-tick-standards

“We are in regular contact with our farmers and auditors to guarantee they are farming humanely.” says Juliette Banks, National Accreditation and Marketing Manager for the SPCA Blue Tick scheme.

“In addition, the scheme is actively promoting cage-free farming so by purchasing SPCA Blue Tick products you are helping to free animals from cages”

SPCA Blue Tick products are available in Progressive and Foodstuff supermarkets, specialty food stores and butchers around the country.

*****

ENDS

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