Özdemir introduces a new approach to animal husbandry labeling

Ozdemir’s new attempt at animal welfare sign

When buying schnitzel or sausage, more and more customers pay attention to how the animals once lived. Now the official logo should be easy to recognize.


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Pigs are lying in a pig shed to take care of the animal. After years of discussions, a new attempt is being made to put official animal husbandry labels on meat and sausages.
© Marijan Murad / dpa

Berlin. After years of discussions, a new attempt is being made to put official animal husbandry labels on meat and sausages. Federal Agriculture Minister Cem Ozdemir (Greens) wants to present the cornerstones of a system on Tuesday (11:00 am) aimed at providing more transparency to supermarket customers about conditions in the stables. The Traffic Lights Alliance has agreed to mandatory labeling in order to promote change towards more animal welfare. At the same time, secure financing must be organized so that farmers are not left with billions of euros for additional investment and expenditures.

New tag: Ozdemir wants to introduce legal regulations before the end of this year. In concrete terms, a system must come that distinguishes and exhibits several forms of breeding – the range extends from minimum legal requirements to greater space and activity materials in the stable to outdoor and organic exercises. The label should start with pork in the first step.

Better Dog: Many customers are already familiar with similar logos on packages, but they are not regulated by the state. Since 2019, supermarket chains have been marked “hungry” which includes pork, poultry and beef. It has four levels: from the legal standard at level 1 called “stable housing,” through level 2 “stable housing plus” and level 3 “outdoor climate” to level 4 “excellent” with outdoor exercise, which also includes organic meat. This sign should also remain in place for some time parallel to the first case, especially since it already exists for many animal species.

Background: What exactly the state emblem should look like is still open. It is clear that we are now talking about a different approach than the one that has been discussed for a long time: that is, mandatory labeling of all forms of breeding – rather than only voluntary sealing of better forms of breeding. Recently, Julia Klöckner (CDU), the predecessor of Ozdemir, wanted to put such an animal welfare logo on the shelves with requirements higher than legal standards. But the plans failed.

Design: Customers should be able to reliably see how the animals are kept once through the striped labels. This transparency should also allow for a more informed purchasing decision. It is similar to eggs, which are given a numerical code for the type of breeding – from 0 for organic to 3 for cage breeding. The Meat in Commerce classification contains the numbers 1 through 4 for the four different levels on the labels and their respective colors red, light blue, orange and green.

Financing: Secured financing should be determined so that farmers are not left alone with investments in barn conversions and higher operating costs. In accordance with the recommendations of the expert panel, a higher rate of value-added tax or “animal welfare tax” on animal products is being discussed. An additional charge of 40 cents per kilogram of meat can be envisaged. But in the alliance, he recently collapsed. The FDP has made it clear that, given the currently high inflation, it refuses to charge additional tariffs to consumers.

FDP Criticizes Additional Membership Level

Alliance partner: In the view of the FDP Parliamentary Group’s agricultural policy spokesman, Gero Hooker, the already known proposals “should only be understood as the basis for first action”. In order to give the consumer more transparency and clearly help promote more animal welfare through shopping behaviour, the breeding label should be based on labels that can actually be found in the store. “With dogmatic insistence on an additional level of organic produce, where breeding is often worse than conventional stables, the Department of Agriculture is threatening to sabotage the project through client policies.”

Critics: Environmentalists and consumers complain about a lack of animal protection. “The new legal naming standards for animal husbandry are not enough to fundamentally improve animal welfare,” said Martin Hofstetter, a Greenpeace expert from media group Funke. The new label only specifies the forms of raising pigs in stables from which fresh meat is obtained and which is sold in the food trade. Foodwatch is also calling for stricter standards: “Many studies show that across all forms of breeding — from small crates to organic farms — many animals suffer disease and injury,” said Managing Director Chris Mithman. (dpa)

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