The Better Life label
Note: for more business-information about the Better Life Label click here.
The Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals (SPA) is the largest animal protection organisation in the Netherlands, with over 160,000 members. Besides 350 paid employees about 30,000 volunteers are active for the society. The Dutch SPA is member of Eurogroup for Animals, the umbrella organisation of the leading animal welfare groups in the EU member states.
From the existing farming systems the Dutch SPA values organic and free range systems the most. But less than 1% of the 450 million animals annually produced in Dutch farming are kept in these systems. The Dutch SPA also wants to improve the welfare of the other 99% of production animals that often live in very intensive not very animal friendly systems. One way to do that is to work with the industry in setting up market segments with products derived from animals that are kept in a more animal friendly way. This led to the development of the Better Life label.
The more stars, the more animal-friendly
Ideally, you would know where all your products come from, especially in the case of meat, milk and other food containing animal products. You are not alone in thinking that it is important that the animals who provide your glass of milk, omelette or pasta sauce should be treated well by farmers and producers. Ever more consumers want clarity about animal welfare when they go shopping. What kind of product is it? How well did the farmer treat the pig that is now a slice of ham, the chicken that laid your egg or the cow that produced your milk?
Since there are many products you do not buy directly from the farmer, but instead from places like the supermarket and the station kiosk, it is often not possible to get information about animal welfare. The Better Life label can help you with this, by clearly indicating how well the animal behind your product is cared for. That way, you have access to this information when you choose a product. This gives you more control over what you want to buy, taking into account not only what best suits your taste and your wallet, but also how you think animals should be treated. When you choose products with a star, you choose products for which you know about the animal’s living conditions. The more stars, the more animal-friendly the product, and the better the living conditions were.
Animal welfare is given sufficient attention: animals get more space and play materials.
Plenty of attention given to animal welfare: animals get even more space and can go outdoors.
Animal welfare is good: animals get as much freedom as possible to live their lives the way they would wish.
Consumerresearch shows that it is the best known food label among Dutch consumers. It has star ratings to resemble the process of ‘raising the bar’ and to offer farmers and consumers the possibility to improve animal welfare step by step. If a product doesn’t have the Better Life label, i.e. no stars, it is a product derived form a regular, intensive farmingsystem with no added animal welfare, or a farming system that has not been certified by the Dutch SPA.
In 2007 the Dutch SPA started a pilot with the Better Life label on chicken meat derived from a slower growing breed of broilers. The broilers got more space, enrichment materials (straw bales) and a covered outdoor run. This strategy of the labelling of meat by de Dutch SPA resulted in some (internal) discussions, but after an evaluation the annual general meeting concluded in December 2007 that the Better Life label could improve the life of millions of farm animals and decided to continue and extend working with it.
The requirements are drafted based on scientific data e.g. from the EFSA Scientific Panel on Animal Healthand Animal Welfare. Additionally they are based on comparable, existing schemes such as RSPCA Assured label from the RSPCA in the UK and Label Rouge in France. Finally the Dutch SPA also takes into account what is practically and economically feasible in the different animal sectors and public opinion. The Dutch SPA is scheme owner for the Better Life label. The Dutch SPA is responsible for the requirements, the general policy, political issues and for communication about the label. To stay independent the Dutch SPA doesn’t receive compensation for its work for the label. For the assessment of participants and for quality assurance, auditing and overseeing certification bodies a separate foundation, ‘the Better Life label foundation’, has been set up.
You can read more about the foundation when you click here.