Consumers who are keen to buy food that meets high animal welfare standards are best off looking for the Soil Association label, it has been claimed.
In a recent study measuring the standards of food quality labels, the Soil Association label achieved an overall gold standard; placing above the RSPCA Freedom label, Lion Mark and The Red Tractor labels.
According to independent.co.uk, the Soil Association label had higher standards of animal welfare than its rivals across all eight live stock categories, although the RSPCA Freedom label also ranked very well.
However, the 60-page report ranked The Red Tractor Label extremely poorly in a number of categories, despite it being the most widely-used mark of quality in the UK. According to dailymail.co.uk, the label - handed out by Assured Food Standards - allows mutilations of pigs, tethering of sheep, zero-grazing of cows and genetic modification of livestock.
The report concluded: "The Assured Food Standards (AFS) schemes generally scored poorly. Free-range standards for broiler chickens and turkeys achieved bronze farming system rating but neither these standards, nor any of the other AFS schemes, achieved an overall scheme rating species.
"The AFS standards offer few welfare benefits compared with standard industry practice and generally only ensure compliance with minimum legislative requirements."