Independent review of Freedom Food

In February 2013 the RSPCA commissioned an independent, expert review of Freedom Food (FF).  

The review was led by a three-member expert panel chaired by the prominent London lawyer Duncan McNair. 

The two other members were the former Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP, and veterinary surgeon and Reader in Animal Welfare and Behaviour at the University of Bristol Veterinary School, Dr David Main.

The panel was advised by the former RSPCA chief vet, current RSPCA trustee and Freedom Food board member Chris Laurence.

Duncan McNair said: “During the 19 years of its existence, Freedom Food has made a very substantial contribution to farmed animal welfare, and continues to do so. I hope that the recommendations that our panel have made will be regarded as constructive and that, if adopted, they will help to improve even further the welfare of farmed animals in future.”

Mike Tomlinson, chairman of Freedom Food said:  “We are extremely grateful to Duncan and his panel for undertaking this review.”

The report sets out a considerable number of recommendations.  In short, they prompt the development of a detailed strategy which maximises:

(i)         welfare improvements for animals within the FF scheme;

(ii)        the FF scheme’s ability to influence the welfare of animals outside the FF scheme in the United Kingdom; and

(iii)       (insofar as this is practicable) the ability of the FF scheme to influence the welfare standards of animals internationally.           

The RSPCA council has welcomed these recommendations and added two more, namely the development of a business model that will lead to self-sufficiency for Freedom Food; and recommendations for a governance model of Freedom Food Limited.