11 Feb 2021 | The veterinary profession
#ChooseAssured – What is lifetime assurance?
As part of BVA’s #ChooseAssured campaign, BVA is highlighting the importance of farm assurance schemes providing lifetime assurance for animals from farm to fork. When we launched the scheme in July there were questions from members and media about what we meant by lifetime assurance.
The clue is in the name – lifetime assurance ensures that an animal’s health and welfare is assured against specific farm assurance scheme standards throughout an animal’s life course at every stage, from farm to fork.
The benefit of lifetime farm assurance is that it covers the whole life of the animal from birth to slaughter. All stages from the birth of the animal, to life on the farm, transporter through to the slaughterhouse are independently inspected to ensure that they meet the farm assurance scheme’s requirements.
Why is lifetime assurance something that farm assurance schemes should be aiming for?
From an animal welfare perspective this ensures that the animal is reared to the standards of the farm assurance scheme throughout the entirety of its lifetime, as opposed to only at specific points in the production process. This also provides consumers with assurances that animal have not been brought to the UK from lower welfare systems for finishing.
How do I know if a product is lifetime assured?
One way to see if different farm assurance schemes provide lifetime assurance is to check if schemes set standards to be adhered to at each point of production e.g. birth, farm, transport, slaughter.
The BVA UK Farm Assurance Schemes graphic (PDF 1.46 MB) distills what is addressed in the UK’s leading farm assurance scheme standards against BVA’s priorities for farm animal welfare, one of which is lifetime assurance
Why don’t all farm assurance schemes provide lifetime assurance?
Farm assurance standards have been developed to meet retailer and customer expectations of the standards expected on farm. These farm assurance standards are based on UK and EU legislation. Many farm assurance standards also detail additional requirements for animal husbandry, food safety, transport of animals and slaughter. However, the focus of the farm assurance standards varies depending on the scheme’s owner focus.
Nevertheless, farm assurance standards are continually developing to address industry issues and consumer demand. For example, new requirements have been added to the Red Tractor livestock standards to address antimicrobial resistance.
Consumer pressure to drive the provision of lifetime assurance by schemes
Demand inevitably influences supply. Where consumers spend their money can directly drive uptake of lifetime assurance across more schemes. As consumers become better informed about their purchasing choices and how they impact on animal health and welfare, they can boost the market demand for lifetime assured products, increasing the appetite for farm assurance schemes to provide lifetime assurance for their products.
If lifetime assurance is important to you when choosing your food then use our infographic to help decide which scheme is best suited to your priorities. As citizens, we give our clearest possible support for a product’s desirability and provenance through the purchases we make. With this in mind, we hope that BVA’s UK Farm Assurance Schemes graphic (PDF 1.46 MB) will enable consumers to exercise informed choice over the animal- derived products they take to the checkouts and stimulate demand for high-health, high-welfare animal products.
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