8 October, 2015

Doing the right thing: ethical labels come of age

Compassionate Book
by Helen Coen from RSPCA Assured

Food and where it comes from is a hot topic these days, whether it’s farmers campaigning to be paid a fair price for milk or Jamie Oliver calling for healthier meals for schoolchildren.

But when the FAIRTRADE mark came into being 20 years ago it was a very different story.

Fairtrade has worked tirelessly to encourage people to make an ethical choice when out shopping, and I find it’s now easier than ever to find products bearing the logo and support fairer farming.

It’s great to feel that you’ve done the right thing, and as well as looking out for the Fairtrade label I always look out for meat, fish and eggs that have been reared with animal welfare in mind. I’ve loved animals ever since I was a child and I’ve worked for the RSPCA for 14 years - so I’ve always tried to do my bit.

In fact, for the last couple of years I’ve been part of the team responsible for the RSPCA Assured higher welfare food label (previously Freedom Food), which also celebrated its 20th anniversary last year.

For a product to bear the RSPCA Assured label, farms (and everyone else involved in the animals’ lives) must meet strict RSPCA welfare standards. These standards cover the whole of an animal’s life, from their health and diet to environment and care. I’m incredibly proud of what’s been achieved - a huge number of farm animals’ lives have been improved thanks to RSPCA Assured. An impressive 700 million cows, chickens, ducks, hens pigs sheep and turkeys have been reared under the scheme since it began in 1994.

For 21 years, both Fairtrade and RSPCA Assured have been making it easy for people to make ethical choices when out shopping. They’ve also spread the word about the welfare of both people and animals and why it’s important that we should all try and make a difference.

Back in 1994 when both organisations came into being there was much less awareness of both animal and people welfare when it came to food. Significant progress has since been made, but there’s still more to be done.One of the ways we’re helping to spread the word about ethical shopping is through the RSPCA Assured Junior Compassionate Cook competition.

We’re asking six to 12-year-olds to enter our annual cookery video competition which opens for entries on Monday 5 October 2015. To be in with a chance of winning some fantastic prizes, we’re asking children to film themselves making their yummiest recipe using RSPCA Assured and Fairtrade ingredients. It’s a fun way of making the connection between good welfare, fairer farming and good food. We’re not looking for master chefs - just fun presenters with simple recipes that anyone can try.

We hope that the competition will encourage both children and their parents to think about where their food comes from and to look for both the RSPCA Assured and Fairtrade labels.

Here’s Aneesah, one of last year’s winners, talking about why she entered and explaining why buying ethical food is important to her.


Check out our recipes and previous winners’ videos for inspiration!

Fairtrade Blog