FAQs for consumers

The rearing method labelling scheme gives consumers an indication, if they want to know, of how the animals used to make a product were kept. They do not need to invest any money or time to be able to discover the animal welfare factor behind the respective product seals. The 4-tier ranking provides consumers with information about how much more animal welfare is in a product than is legally required at a glance.


However, the rearing method labelling scheme is not a label and so is not a new programme or inspection system. It classifies existing labels on a scale and thus gives a quick overview.


Questions about the labelling scheme

Each food retailer decides for itself how many products from which rearing method tier they want to sell.


Questions about programmes

Programmes and standards are only classified in the rearing method labelling scheme if the participating retailers apply for approval. To start with, we decided to focus on the animals which were most relevant on the market. Of course, all participants are also working towards defining minimum requirements for other species in order to provide a decision-making aid for consumers when buying less common types of meat.

The rearing method labelling scheme has defined minimum requirements and tiers that consumers can use as a quick guide with regards to animal welfare. Organic production covers other aspects that are important for many consumers. Consumers that also place value on organic factors in addition to animal welfare aspects can use the well-known organic seal to help them make their decision when buying meat products.


Questions about the criteria

The rearing method labelling scheme is a guide for consumers to help them better classify existing programmes and standards with animal rearing requirements. The rearing method criteria are presented in a transparent manner and serve as a framework for the different animal rearing requirements and the classification of programmes. A range of different experts from the sector were involved in developing the criteria.

In addition to the organic standard, there is a range of other programmes with high animal welfare requirements that have already been classified. When working out the minimum requirements, we looked for compromises so that we could classify both organic and other programmes, some of which have higher animal welfare requirements than the EU Organic Regulation.

For now, the rearing method labelling scheme only applies to the fattening period.

The rearing method labelling scheme is not a standard in itself. As such, it is currently the task of the different standards and programmes to work together with economic operators and politicians to come up with a solution. Once a practicable approach has been found, then can we enforce such a requirement. 

Participation in antibiotics monitoring is a minimum requirement for all four tiers. However, a blanket ban on antibiotic use would not be beneficial to the animals. In fact, a vital aspect of animal protection is a correct use of antibiotics and as such this is a central requirement for all participants – including farmers.


Questions about checks

A check on the requirements for animal-friendly rearing is carried out during the certification process. The respective standard setter (e.g. Animal Welfare Initiative, Neuland, German Animal Welfare Federation, Organic) is responsible for this check and must organise it. The supporting organisation or a commissioned neutral inspection body then checks to see whether the rearing method labelling is actually only carried out by the participating retailers and to what extent suppliers separate goods correctly.