ASA bans ad over animal welfare claims

An advertising campaign by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) promoting animal welfare standards has been banned by the ASA for making misleading claims.

Red Tractor welfare claims

The national press, poster and social network campaign claimed that “Red Tractor pork is high welfare pork”, referring to the Red Tractor quality mark devised by Assured Food Standards, and used the strapline “Pork not porkies”.

The AHDB was promoting British farmers and told the ASA that 92 per cent of farms in the UK were part of the Red Tractor scheme. The board said that the Red Tractor Pork was high welfare compared with pork exported from other EU countries.

The ASA agreed with the agriculture board that the Red Tractor standard was higher than the minimum EU standards.

However, it said that the campaign did not make clear that the welfare standards were in comparison with EU standards. There are still contentious issues with the welfare of British pigs, even if it was better than EU imported pork.

The watchdog’s ruling states: “We considered that, because it was unclear that the claim ‘Red Tractor pork is high welfare pork’ was a comparative claim with imported pork, it would be understood to be a claim about the general level of pig welfare in the UK.

“We considered that the claim implied that there were no concerns about the welfare of pigs in the UK, whereas some areas were unlikely to be regarded as ‘high’ welfare. We therefore concluded that the claim was misleading.”

The campaign had to be amended to ensure that the basis of comparative claims was made clear in the future, the ASA ruled.

Joyce D’Silva from Compassion in World Farming, whose supporters were responsible for the majority of the 206 complaints, says: “Claims of high welfare are clearly a lucrative marketing tool but in this case they were overblown and misleading to the consumer. The ‘pork not porkies’ claim on the advert makes this a particularly embarrassing own-goal for Red Tractor pork.”

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