#ChooseAssured campaign - what’s it all about?

Posted on July 20, 2018 by Hayley Atkin

So, the clue is in the name of the campaign, BVA is encouraging the veterinary profession and the wider public to #ChooseAssured by purchasing animal-derived products that are farm assured.

But why are we celebrating farm assurance schemes?

We believe that the veterinary profession has a key role to play in informing and engaging with the public in regard to the value and provenance of animal derived food.

Through the campaign we hope to raise awareness of the great work of the UK’s farm assurance schemes and the crucial role of vets within these schemes to safeguard animal health and welfare.

Following the actions set out in the  BVA Animal Welfare Strategy, we have developed a policy position on farm assurance schemes and a UK farm assurance schemes infographic. We hope these outputs will inform consumers about the value of veterinary involvement in these schemes, as well as how schemes address different priorities for animal health and welfare.

UK Farm assurance schemes infographic – how can I use it?

We know that the variety of farm assurance schemes quality marks that we find on supermarket shelves can often create a confusing experience. It’s difficult to know exactly what these labels mean for animal health and welfare.

With this in mind, the infographic sets out BVA’s priorities for animal health and welfare against the UK’s leading farm assurance schemes to help the public understand whether or not these schemes address these priorities in their standards. It’s designed for you to take to the supermarket or look at whilst you’re doing your online shop to support you in your purchasing choices.

Not a league table of schemes

It’s definitely not a ranking exercise or a league table of schemes, as we know that schemes will address each priority differently and therefore health and welfare outcomes will vary from scheme to scheme. However, we hope that the infographic will enable consumers to identify the animal health and welfare issue(s) that matter most to them and check whether the label that they see on their food packaging is working to address this priority in some way.

What do each of the priorities mean?

Stunning before slaughter

The scheme requires that all animals are stunned before slaughter to render them insensible to pain.

Veterinary involvement

The scheme requires expert input and advice from the veterinary profession in the development, implementation, and continuous review and improvement of its standards.

Behavioural opportunity

The scheme does not allow the use cages for laying hens or farrowing crates for sows (pre-birth until weaning) as these environments substantially reduce behavioural opportunity.

Responsible use of antimicrobials

The scheme supports responsible use of antimicrobials and considers what animal health and welfare requirements, such as disease prevention strategies, improved animal husbandry and management, are incorporated to help prevent the need for prescribing.

Animal health and biosecurity

The scheme has measures to protect animal health and prevent the spread of disease.

Lifetime assurance

Animals spend their whole lives on an assured farm, livestock transport is assured ie. standards assure the management of health and welfare during transportation and the scheme has standards to ensure welfare at slaughter. Schemes may address some of these areas even if products are not lifetime assured.

Measures to protect the environment

The scheme provides guidance on preventing environmental contamination, pollution and minimising waste.

What can I do to support the campaign?

How you can take part in the #ChooseAssured campaign:

  • Use the BVA UK farm assurance schemes infographic to inform your own purchases, and share with friends, family and colleagues.
  • Share the poster on social media to spread awareness using the #ChooseAssured hashtag.
  • Display the infographic in your staff room, waiting room or even on the communal fridge to get the message out there.

Hayley Atkin

Written by Hayley Atkin

BVA Policy Officer

Hayley provides the secretariat to BVA Scottish Branch and works with BVA members to develop evidence-based policy spanning companion animals, animal disease surveillance and farm assurance.