The Freedom Food scheme was established by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), a UK-based charity established almost 200 years ago. Overall RSPCA management is coordinated by a council, which consists of 25 members directly elected by the society's members. Freedom Food claims to be the only UK farm assurance scheme targeted at improving farm animal welfare.
Freedom Food standards are developed directly by the RSPCA in consultation with producers and a range of technical experts. Standards are now available for both producers and haulers and abattoirs and have been developed for a wide range of commodities. In 2006, Freedom Food standards for the production of farmed salmon were also issued, covering every aspect of the salmon life cycle from eggs to juveniles, to adults and slaughter. Although the main focus is on animal welfare, standards also contain a section on the "Wider Environmental Impact" addressing predator control, escapees and other issues.
At present Freedom Food salmon is the only aquaculture commodity covered by the scheme and can be purchased only by UK supermarkets.
The Label Rouge programme was started in France about 40 years ago by a group of producers with the support of the French Government, which officially created and formalized the Label Rouge scheme. The programme was initially focused on the production of poultry of superior quality (both in terms of taste and food safety), through free-range practices (low stocking density), use of selected breeds and other methods.76
Standards are developed and revised by a group of specialists and are then examined by the "reference examination" section of the National Commission of Labels and Certification for Agricultural and Food Products, which includes representatives from producers, processors, distributors and consumers. Standards receiving a favourable opinion from the Commission receive approval from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing. Certification is conducted by independent CBs accredited by Association chargée de l'accréditation des laboratoires, organismes certificateurs et d'inspection (COFRAC) the official accreditation agency of the French Government.77
From earlier efforts on French poultry, Label Rouge expanded to certifying poultry and a range of other commodities abroad. The Label Rouge certification of shrimp from Madagascar was one of the first efforts conducted outside France. Label Rouge standards for shrimp were developed by a working group including a wide range of specialists (also involving Institute français de la recherché pour l'exploitation de la mer [IFREMER]), producers, processors and others). The shrimp standards were then submitted to the commission for its evaluation, review and approval. As efforts towards shrimp standard development are largely supported by producers, standards are not freely available and can be obtained only upon request to the Madagascar shrimp businesses involved in the development of the standards.78
In addition to shrimp from Madagascar, there is now a wide range of Label Rouge-certified aquaculture products including salmon products from Scotland, Norway and Ireland, farmed bass from the Mediterranean, oysters and scallops from France and farmed turbot.
76 Fanatico, A. & Born, H. 2002. Label Rouge: pasture-based poultry production in France. http://www.attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/labelrouge.html
77 Label Rouge. 2007. Seafood and aquaculture products of excellence. Brochure presented at the European Seafood Exposition 2007, 24-26 April 2007.
78 Eric Bernard, WWF Madagascar, personal communication.