Tracy Worcester recommends ‘high welfare’ labels
There have been a number of criticisms of the Red Tractor certification over the years and a clear account was recently published by Farms not Factories.
Tracy Worcester opens by recalling that campaigners have frequently exposed Red Tractor farms, see reports in the BBC, the Ecologist, the Times, the Daily Mail and Viva! She comments, “Occasionally when a farm is investigated and exposed, Red Tractor will withdraw accreditation, but for the most part they turn a blind eye, allowing farms to operate below minimum legal welfare standards. Red Tractor inspects farms once a year, but only one in a thousand inspections are unannounced”.
Tracy, who has championed the humane rearing of pigs in particular explains that, when it comes to buying pork, the Red Tractor label does not offer any assurance that the pigs were raised in high welfare conditions. It is not a high welfare label and means that people are likely to be buying pork from pigs that have suffered acutely from close confinement, lack of bedding, overcrowding and stress. However, she adds, it is important to remember that more than 80% of all UK pig farms use the Red Tractor label. If the Red Tractor label is used in conjunction with another higher welfare label (which is often the case), then the pig welfare standards will be raised to that label.
She refers to the pork labelling guide (above) which explains what the labels really mean for pigs and recommends only buying products with high welfare labels, such as *RSPCA Assured, Free Range or – best of all – Organic. These pigs will have been raised on high welfare farms, almost certainly in the UK. Pork with high welfare labels can be found in most supermarkets and customers can also ask for high welfare at the local butcher, or better still shop at the local farmers’ market, find high welfare online, or join a box scheme. When eating out, always ask if the meat is from a high welfare farm.
Tracy will be keenly scrutinising any future trade deal which incorporates agricultural products and will publish her commendations or misgivings on her website: https://farmsnotfactories.org.