Freedom Food is the RSPCA’s farm assurance and food labelling scheme. It aims to improve the welfare of animals farmed for our food. Freedom Food assesses farms to the RSPCA’s strict welfare standards and if they meet every standard they can use the Freedom Food label on their product.
Freedom Food allows free-range, organic, indoor* and outdoor farms to join its scheme as long as the RSPCA’s welfare standards can be met.
*Cages for laying hens are prohibited.
There are actually very few free range farms in the UK, so if Freedom Food only approved free range farms it would be failing to help improve the lives of the greater majority of farm animals, who often live in poor conditions.
Also, good animal welfare is not as simple as indoor versus outdoors as both methods have their pros and cons. More importantly it comes down to good practice and management, and working to good standards whether indoor or outdoor, free-range or organic.
No. Freedom Food is a charity and does not make a profit. Every penny is ploughed back into improving the lives of farm animals.
The name Freedom Food comes from the Government’s Farm Animal Welfare Council’s ‘Five Freedoms’. These aspirational goals are freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury and disease, freedom to express natural behaviour and freedom from fear and distress. The RSPCA welfare standards – like many other farm assurance schemes - are also based on the five freedoms.
Freedom Food assesses every farm annually. In addition at least 30 per cent of farms receive a monitoring visit by an RSPCA Farm Livestock Officer – most of these visits are unannounced.
If a farm does not keep to the standard they may be suspended or permanently removed from the scheme depending on the severity of the non-compliance. In the case of more minor infringements, therefore anything that does not have a direct impact on the health and welfare of an animal, such as record-keeping, they will be given a short period in which to rectify the problem and submit evidence. If they fail to do so, they may also be suspended or removed from the scheme.
The only way of knowing if a product is Freedom Food is if it bears the Freedom Food label. If it does not have the Freedom Food label then it is unlikely to have been reared to RSPCA welfare standards.
The RSPCA welfare standards can be applied to indoor, outdoor, free range and organic farming. In the case of free range, the standards set out a number of additional requirements. For example, in the case of laying hens the RSPCA’s standards require shade and shelter on the range to encourage more birds outside whatever the weather whilst giving them shelter and protection from predators.