The argument that we need to eat ‘less and better’ meat and dairy is gaining momentum in the world of food policy. But what constitutes ‘better’?
The Eating Better alliance has launched a new guide that aims to give food businesses a clear sense of what more sustainable meat and dairy production looks like.
Aimed at the foodservice and retail sectors, the sourcing better guide provides indicators of ‘basic’, ‘better’ and ‘best’ practice for animal products with the aim of helping businesses move their procurement up the scale.
It identifies eight key impact areas that need to be addressed in sourcing policies: from the way in which the animal is reared and fed including limiting the use of antibiotics, to tackling GHG emissions and nature loss, minimising pollution, water scarcity and run-off, and improving soil health.
Targets include reducing stocking densities of livestock and reducing the volume of uncertified soya and palm kernel meal in animal feed.
In some cases best practice means achieving organic or other gold-standard certifications from bodies such as RSPCA Assured and Pasture for Life.
Eating Better said the guide had broad support from the coalition of over 60 civil society organisations that make up the alliance. It said the guide offers a vision of farming that benefits climate, nature and the health and welfare of farm animals, while ensuring profitability for farmers.
The guide is aligned with Eating Better’s long-term vision to stimulate a 50% reduction in meat and dairy consumption in the UK by 2030 and a transition to better production as standard.
“We’re calling for transformational change for all meat sold, while recognising the challenges this presents to the retail and foodservice industries,” said Eating Better executive director Simon Billing.
“Our aim is to support retailers and restaurants on the journey to sourcing better and this guide is a first step to achieving that, and, ultimately, to making climate and nature friendly meat available and affordable to all.”
Last year, a Footprint investigation found some of the UK’s leading high street restaurant chains, hotel and pub groups and contract caterers are committed to rejecting US meat produced to lower standards than are currently required in the UK. However, some businesses said they would consider sourcing US meat if a future trade deal requires exporters to meet UK standards of production.