UK Bans Organic Food Ad

Banned Ad

Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority has banned an ad that claimed organically raised animals had higher welfare standards than those conventionally raised.

The ad, which was created by The Haygarth Group, featured a pantomime cow and stated in a tagline, “We love organic because we care about animals,” and, “Organic means fewer drugs or antibiotics, it also means better conditions for animals so they get to thrive and grow more naturally.”

Designed to highlight the high welfare standards in organic farming is why the Organic Trade Board ran the ad, stating that the practice of organic farming was the only farming system defined by legislative regulation in all of the EU.

Complaints submitted by an agricultural surveyor and a farmer led the ASA to make the decision to ban the ad, stating that it was misleading to consumers by alluding that other methods of farming practiced in Europe did not offer welfare standards. The organization stated that: “While we noted that the evidence provided by the Organic Trade Board showed that organically farmed animals experienced high animal welfare conditions, we did not consider that it showed that in all cases, organically farmed animals experienced better conditions than non-organically farmed animals.”

Higher welfare standards are a common misconception about organic farming, but regulations for organic standards deal primarily with feed, outdoor access, use of antibiotics and other drugs, and it is not a guarantee that animals are any less susceptible to stress, abuse or neglect as a result of confinement.

The RSPCA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is an advocacy agency that works to help create welfare standards for animals throughout the UK, regardless of whether they’re raised organically. According to their website, “The standards are applied through our higher welfare food labelling and farm assurance scheme, Freedom Food, as well as being used by a variety of other bodies and individuals in the UK and beyond.”

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Photo: The Haygarth Group

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites and, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better.