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Beef: Labelling

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 50958, tabled on 17 September 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether beef produced on farms that carry out the surgical removal of ovaries from cows without pain relief falls under the definition of imports of lower welfare as set out in the Government’s call for evidence on Labelling for animal welfare, published on 13 September 2021.

Answered on

22 September 2021

UK legislation sets out high standards for animal welfare. This includes the 2006 Animal Welfare Act, the 2007 Welfare of Farmed Animal Regulations, the 2007 Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) Regulations, and the 2015 Welfare at the Time of Killing regulations, as well as the retained EU Regulation 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport. Animal welfare is a fully devolved matter and comparable legislation exists in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

The Government launched a call for evidence on 13 September to assess the impacts of different types of labelling reforms for animal welfare. For the purpose of this call for evidence, 'imports of lower welfare' is defined as 'the subset of imports that do not meet baseline UK welfare regulations', including, but not limited to, the regulations mentioned above.

Any future label requirements would need to be underpinned by a set of agreed welfare standards, referring to how these meet, exceed, or fall below baseline UK welfare regulations and international standards. The development of such welfare standards would be informed by the responses to this call for evidence and further stakeholder engagement.

The responses to this call for evidence will be used to inform any future policy proposals on animal welfare labelling. This will feed into the Government’s wider work on food labelling to ensure that consumers can have confidence in the food they buy and to facilitate the trade of quality British food at home and abroad.