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OUT OF MIND, OUT OF SIGHT: Improving Animal Welfare Through Food Labelling



When animals are bred for food, the conditions under which they live and die can be brought to the consumer’s attention by a wide range of means. One efficient way to do this is an effective labelling system.

This paper contends that a significant number of consumers would be willing to pay more for meat products derived from animals certified to have been treated humanely from birth to slaughter. As a consequence, producers would be motivated to improve their practices, thereby reducing the often intense suffering endured by millions of animals bred for food in Australia.

The paper explores some of the economic, political and social issues surrounding the way animals are currently farmed and sold in Australia in order to assess the potential introduction of animal-welfare labelling. Some of the obstacles confronting the implementation of such labelling, including religious practices and requirements and the costs involved to producers and consumers, are considered.

Various labelling alternatives are explored and some recommendations are made. It is emphasised that animal-welfare labelling is recommended in addition to other animal welfare projects and campaigns, not to replace them.

The excellent outcomes resulting from organic food labelling and not-tested-on animals labelling points to the potential success of animal-welfare labelling.


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