Animal Welfare Commitments, key to consumer confidence
Among the demands of consumers of meat and animal products, the search for guarantees that the rearing and value-adding processes throughout the production chain are carried out in accordance with the strictest welfare requirements for farm animals has been gaining ground.
In this line of working to guarantee not only the regulations in force in Spain and the European Union but to go further in the implementation and compliance with the highest standards of livestock welfare, the livestock and meat sectors in our country, represented by the different interprofessional organisations (ASICI, AVIANZA, INTERCUN, INTEROVIC, INTERPORC and PROVACUNO), have been developing a pioneering initiative at world level that reflects the Spanish sector's commitment to animal welfare, offering added value to meat products in the eyes of consumers.
The "Animal Welfare Commitment" seal, developed by each interprofessional, certifies the good practices carried out in the Spanish meat sector in terms of animal welfare, biosecurity, animal handling and traceability. It reflects the commitment of the entire sector to animal welfare and guarantees maximum information and transparency for the consumer. It is a seal that can be displayed by Spanish products that comply with the most demanding animal welfare standards in the world, endorsed by a Scientific Committee made up of prestigious independent professionals.
It requires compliance with a regulation that, in addition to ensuring the requirements of the Community animal welfare regulations, provides an additional plus by reinforcing aspects of biosecurity and food safety.
It is intended to be a tool for control, evaluation and continuous improvement with which to involve all links in the chain and guarantee transparency and traceability of all operators.
The control of its compliance requires independent audits in livestock facilities, in loading, transport and unloading operations, and in the meat companies that process and prepare products for their final marketing, which makes it possible to cover all the phases or stages, both livestock and industrial.
It is an example of an evolving, transparent and independent certification, which offers consumers a responsible model committed to the so-called "Five Animal Freedoms" adopted by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and to the principles of Food Safety.
The six animal production Interprofessionals are thus launching a pioneering initiative that consolidates Spain as one of the major international benchmarks in animal welfare.
Each Interprofessional has its own Technical Regulations adapted to the production reality of each species in which more demanding requirements are set than the European and national regulations in relation to each of the five principles of animal welfare mentioned above: animals free from hunger, thirst and malnutrition; free from fear and distress; free from physical or thermal discomfort; free from pain, injury or disease; and free to express their own behavioural patterns.
The aim of the initiative is to harmonise animal welfare certification so that the consumer can recognise a harmonised seal that guarantees good animal welfare practices throughout the animal's life. Each species has its own name and image adapted to the product: IBAW (Iberian pig), AWIS-BAIE (sheep and goat), IWAS (white layer pig), PAWS (beef) or IWAS (rabbit meat).
In this way, the Spanish sector has been anticipating the growing demands of consumers in terms of production that respects animal welfare and contributes to the distribution of products with seals on their shelves that guarantee best practices in this area.