DiscoverRSPCA Australia's Humane Food Podcast
RSPCA Australia's Humane Food Podcast
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RSPCA Australia's Humane Food Podcast

Author: RSPCA Australia

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Find out all things farm animal welfare, food and farming in Australia with our host Brian Daly. Brian Daly is a writer, producer, director who has been raising awareness of animal welfare issues for the past two decades.
16 Episodes
Brian Daly interviews animal welfare researcher, consultant, and slaughter specialist Dr Leisha Hewitt.    Leisha’s passion for animal welfare started at young age and was born from the empathy for animals her mother taught her to have. When choosing a place of study as a young adult it became obvious that the options for studying animal welfare weren’t as clear cut as they are today. Having opted to study meat science, Leisha was led down the path of researching animal welfare during slaughter. Now, Leisha holds a PhD in Clinical Veterinary Science, is a well-respected animal welfare consultant, member of the OIE technical committee on the killing of farmed reptiles and qualified Lead Auditor and Animal Welfare Assessor. What started in the beginning as simply learning to care about animals, no doubt has evolved into a career that has shaped and improved the welfare of many animals globally.  In the last episode of season 1 of this podcast we found out more about the process of animal slaughter, and how effective stunning works in ensuring animals are slaughtered or killed in a humane manner. But the way animals are treated from the time they arrive at an abattoir through to being stunned pre slaughter can also greatly affect their welfare. The competencies and experience of stockpersons, as well as plant infrastructure, certification requirements and overarching legislation, all play a part in the humane handling of animals throughout the slaughter process.   Join us in this episode as we discuss with Leisha how animals are handled at abattoirs, and how this can be done humanely.  Key points:   ·         What happens to animals in abattoirs from arrival through to pre slaughter stunning ·         How stockpersons and operators can ensure that handling is done humanely   ·         What humane slaughter means    Further links:  
Brian Daly interviews RSPCA Australia’s Scientific Officer Dr Sarah Babington and Senior Scientific Officer (Farm Animals) Melina Tensen, to find out more about farm animal transportation in Australia.  Farm animals are transported within Australia every day to other properties, saleyards, feedlots, abattoirs and export ports. Some of these journeys may involve distances of thousands of kilometres over several days. Transport is stressful for farm animals and can cause suffering and deaths.  The RSPCA believes that animals should be transported in a way that avoids injury and minimises suffering or distress. Journey times should be as short as possible, and slaughter of food animals should occur as near to the farm as possible. Particular care is needed during transport of animals who are in poor condition because of drought, and transport of bobby calves. Bobby calves are often transported for slaughter at less than 5 days of age. They are particularly susceptible to stress and injury during transport because of their young age.  The RSPCA was one of two animal welfare organisations involved in the development of the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines - Land Transport of Livestock. As a contributor to the transport standards, the RSPCA pressed for improvements in the transport process for farm animals, especially the way animals are handled, the conditions on board the vehicles, and the extent to which animals are provided with water and rest during the process.  All states and territories except for Western Australia have now incorporated the standards under legislation. The RSPCA would also like to see the standards incorporated into quality assurance programs by the livestock and transport industries.   Improving welfare for farm animals shouldn’t stop at the farm gate, the whole chain needs to be considered and transport is a key area for concern when it comes to animal welfare. Join us in this episode to find out more about the complexities of transportation in Australia, and what we can do in the future to improve outcomes for animals during transport.   Key points:   ·       Why farm animals are transported in Australia and how this affects them   ·       What the animal transport legislation in Australia covers  ·       How animal welfare can be improved in transport   Further links:   
Brian Daly interviews Lauren Mackenzie, Responsible Sourcing Manager for Agriculture at Coles. Lauren’s interest in agriculture started from a young age when she reared her own cattle and became involved in all aspects of their care. Including their veterinary treatments, which gave her early exposure to how antibiotics are used in animal production. Fast forward to the present day and Lauren’s role at Coles covers a host of responsible sourcing initiatives, in which animal welfare plays a big role. Antibiotics are a necessary part of providing animals with a good quality of life, by means of treatment when they are sick. However, their use varies globally and some of the concerns Australian consumers have are related to whether antibiotics are in the products they eat, rather than how they are used in production. Join us in this episode as we discuss with Lauren how antibiotics are used in Australia and what labelling terms such as ‘antibiotic free’ mean.Key points:The reasons why antibiotics are used in animal productionHow antibiotics are used in Australian agriculture What labelling terms such as ‘antibiotic free’ mean Further links: 
Brian Daly interviews Dr Mark Tizard, senior scientist and project leader at CSIRO.  Mark started his career in the early days of gene cloning as part of the team that was first to identify and produce a candidate vaccine for malaria. After this he went on to complete a PhD and postdoctoral project in microbiology and gene technology before coming to Australia to work at CSIRO. After many advancements in the emerging field of gene editing, and fast forward to the present day, Mark’s team have been able to identify a method to remove males from the egg laying industry without even having to hatch or cull day old chicks.  Join us in this episode as we unpack this gene editing technology with Mark and find out more about how this could be a very real solution to end male chick culling.  Key points:  What happens with male chicks in the egg industry  What is gene editing and is it different to genetic modification How can gene editing technology be used to stop the culling of male chicks  What are the challenges in this technology becoming commercially available Further links: 
Brian Daly interviews RSPCA Australia’s Farm Animal Scientific Officer Dr Sarah Babington and Senior Policy Officer Dr Jed Goodfellow. In recent years there has been a decline in grocery sales of cage eggs, indicating that more Australian consumers are choosing cage-free eggs in the supermarket. But with overall egg consumption increasing, and eggs being used in various products, the total number of Australian hens confined to cages has not yet significantly dropped.  There are inherent animal welfare issues associated with the farming of hens in cages, and the RSPCA has been calling for an end to the battery cage in Australia for decades.  Many countries globally have now phased out the use of battery cages for egg production, with some investing in furnished cages. These cage systems are different to a battery cage, with more space, provision of nest boxes and may have additional enrichment. They also retain the benefits of battery cage systems in relation to hygiene and disease control.  However, while there are some provisions to allow greater behavioural expression, the hens’ full behavioural repertoire is not able to be expressed satisfactorily in furnished cages. Hens are also still confined for their entire lifetime, standing on wire floor and suffering health impacts like osteoporosis. Therefore, these cages do not offer a complete solution with regards to hen housing. The RSPCA advocates for a transition to cage-free production systems that meet all the hens’ health and welfare needs while allowing them to exhibit important natural behaviours. Many well-known brands in the Australian food industry are already using cage-free eggs or are transitioning to using cage-free eggs. Companies like these are proving every day that you can build a successful and profitable business based on good animal welfare; and that we can produce affordable, safe, healthy cage-free eggs on a large scale.  But the RSPCA knows that to see a drop in the number of hens confined to cages there must be a legislated phase out. Over 75% of OECD nations have already committed to transitioning their egg industries away from inhumane battery cages. Australia has yet to follow.  The national Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry are currently under review for the first time in over a decade. The RSPCA has been involved in this process for the past five years, and understands that an independent panel has been appointed to supervise the draft of a new standard which will be presented to Agriculture Ministers later in 2020.  This is the time for state and territory governments to step up, acknowledge the science, respond to the community, and finally end this cruel and outdated farming practice.  In addition to calling on governments to phase out the battery cage, the RSPCA encourages Australians to support those producers doing the right thing by choosing cage-free eggs, both in the supermarket and when you’re eating out. Key points:  What are the animal welfare issues associated with cage egg production  How cage egg production differs to cage free/barn and free range What companies are doing in Australia to get hens out of cages  The latest update on where Australian legislation is at with poultry welfare  Further links: 
Brian Daly interviews Simon Bryant, former Executive Chef at Hilton Adelaide, and Festival Director of Tasting Australia.  Simon Bryant is probably most well known in Australia from his long running ABC TV series with Maggie Beer ‘the cook and the chef’. He is passionate about the welfare of animals after growing up on a hobby farm and this has led to his work advocating for the use of ethical ingredients. As a chef putting humane food on the menu, Simon has been involved in the RSPCA’s Choose Wisely initiative which is all about getting Australian’s to think about their food when they’re eating out – especially the eggs on their plate.  Join us in this episode to unpack how chefs can make a difference to the welfare of animals farmed for food through their menu development, and how consumers can support it.  Key points:  Simon Bryant’s connection with animals and how he works to educate his customers about animal welfare  The dilemma Simon faces in sustainable menu development when there are so many factors to consider Themes in transparency and language in the marketing of animal derived products  What Simon Bryant believes industry should be doing to increase consumer awareness about farming practices  Further links:  
Brian Daly interviews RSPCA Australia’s Chief Science and Strategy Officer Dr Bidda Jones and Senior Policy Officer Dr Jed Goodfellow. In this episode, we delve into the RSPCA’s well-known and long-held opposition to live animal exports. For an organisation that supports farming and generally pushed to improve (rather than outright ban) poor practices – why is live export one of few exceptions? Dr Bidda Jones has been with the RSPCA for more than 20 years, and back then, the first report she ever wrote for the RSPCA was on the horrors of live sheep export to the Middle East.  She’s also the author of Backlash: Australia’s conflict of values over live exports, which detailed the events leading up and beyond the notorious 2011 live export expose, A Bloody Business on the Australian ABC’s leading current affairs program, Four Corners.  Dr Jones leads us through the strong case, the scientific knowledge and the overwhelming evidence that show live animal exports are risky, unnecessary and inherently bad for animal welfare. She also explains how animal welfare groups are generally responsible for any improvements in the trade, because the industry consistently fails to respond to issues or address animal welfare concerns without the public outrage of covert video evidence as a trigger. Dr Jed Goodfellow is the RSPCA Senior Policy Officer, an animal welfare lawyer and former RSPCA Inspector and prosecutor. He’s been working on the live export issue on behalf of the RSPCA for more than 9 years, and represents the RSPCA on a number of high-level government committee and industry groups. He talks about why the risks of live export are so difficult to mitigate. He outlines what conditions for animals are like on board live export ships, including their difficulty accessing food and water, as well as disease outbreaks and infections they’re likely to experience.   He also talks about problems with the industry’s continuing focus on how many animals have died as a measure of animal welfare, and particularly, because this doesn't take account of thousands of animals that might suffer terribly but survive. Key points:  Why the RSPCA is opposed to live animal exports: the scientific basis, the case against live exports, and the long history of repeated animal welfare disasters. Why live animal export is cruel and unnecessary when animals can be humanely slaughtered closer to home, boosting Australia's thriving trade in chilled and frozen meat to the same destinations. How both sheep and cattle exported can face horrific conditions on board, but these risks don’t end when the leave the ship, with multiple examples of terrible treatment in destination countries. How multiple government reviews conducted over decades have consistently found poor animal welfare is inherent to the trade and the business model, and that live export cannot be done humanely.   Further links: ***Warning: These television programs feature graphic footage of animal cruelty in the live export industry, and viewers may find content this very distressing.*** ABC Four Corners: A Bloody Business:  60 Minutes:  Sheep, ships and videotape:   
Brian Daly interviews RSPCA Australia’s Humane Food Marketing Officer, Talulah Gaunt to find out more of what is to come on season 2 of the Humane Food podcast.  Some of our listeners may only know the RSPCA for the work we do to prevent cruelty to companion animals like cats and dogs. But the organisation has a long history of working to improve farm animal welfare. In fact the RSPCA in Australia was started in Victoria to improve the lives of working horses; and the national organisation of RSPCA Australia was also created to address farm animal welfare issues such as battery cages and live exports at the federal level.  The key point of difference for the RSPCA – and what differentiates us from many other animal welfare groups – is that our policies and positions are based on the best available science and evidence. That’s important to understand because it’s crucial to our work and our activities, and this approach underpins our role in Australian agriculture.  Our focus is always to work and engage with a wide range of stakeholders in the livestock sector, supporting research and development, and connecting with individual producers including through the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme, in order to improve the welfare of the very large numbers of animals being farmed in Australia today.  Likewise, other listeners may be wondering why the RSPCA doesn’t actively promote a vegetarian or vegan diet? Well, the reason is that, just as the RSPCA respects the choices of people who don’t consume meat or other animal products, we also want to help those people who do eat animal products to make the best welfare choices.  One way of reducing the suffering of animals in livestock production systems is by not purchasing products that are sourced from farm animals at all. Indeed, when some people become aware of the realities of large-scale animal farming, they choose to become vegetarian or vegan. We respect this choice.  But some people do choose and continue to consume meat, eggs and dairy – so for these people, another way to reduce the suffering of farmed animals is to seek out and purchase high welfare animal products. This both directly improves the lives of farm animals and helps encourage farmers to move to higher welfare systems. While there are still many people who are unaware or unconcerned about the suffering of farm animals, there’s a growing community of people who accept animal farming but choose to source products from animals farmed in a more humane manner.  So, while the farming of animals for food and fibre continues, the RSPCA seeks to ensure that the conditions under which those animals live meet all their essential physical and behavioural needs. The RSPCA believes we can help improve how farm animals are treated by getting involved in the process and constantly pushing for higher production standards along the supply chain. We do this at government, industry and producer level.  Key points: Teaser of the topics season 2 will cover  The RSPCA’s approach to engaging with farming industry and encouraging change for better animal welfare  Why the RSPCA isn’t a vegetarian or vegan organisation  Further links: 
Brian Daly interviews RSPCA Australia’s Chief Science and Strategy Officer, Dr Bidda Jones, to find out more about how farm animals are killed for food in Australia. In Australia, the killing of animals for food, fibre and other animal products (referred to as ‘slaughter’) is underpinned by minimal provisions in the Australian standard for the hygienic production and transport of meat and meat products for human consumption. The main objective of the standard is to ensure food safety, however, it also includes an animal welfare component.RSPCA Australia defines humane killing as when an animal is either killed instantly or instantaneously rendered insensible to pain until it dies. The Australian meat industry has developed its own National animal welfare standards for livestock processing establishments. By incorporating these standards into their quality assurance program (and standard operating procedures), abattoirs are able to demonstrate (to the state meat authority) that they meet regulatory requirements as well as better practice in terms of animal care and welfare.Standard procedures at Australian abattoirs are designed to hold and move animals throughout the facility in a calm, quiet and ‘low stress’ manner. Just prior to slaughter, animals are restrained and then stunned (rendered unconscious). Pre-slaughter stunning is scientifically recognised as essential for humane slaughter. Stunning ensures the animal is unconscious and insensible to pain before being bled out at slaughter.An operator should then confirm that each animal is unconscious and will be insensible to pain when the major blood vessels are severed shortly afterwards. The animal should not regain consciousness and no further processing should take place until the animal is confirmed dead.Key points:-          The process of how farm animals are killed for food in Australia -          What the legislation covers and how abattoirs operate -          What stunning is and why it is important -          Consumer questions around religious slaughter in Australia Further links: 
Brian Daly interviews Coles’ Head of Quality and Responsible Sourcing, James Whittaker, to find out more about what Coles is doing to improve animal welfare, particularly with their free-range pork suppliers. Coles Free Range Pork comes from pigs raised to the RSPCA’s animal welfare standards. These standards are comprehensive, publicly available and focus on ensuring that the physical and behavioural needs of the pigs are well provided for. Pigs are smart, social creatures and giving them the physical space and ability to express their natural behaviours is a key part of ensuring they’re happy and healthy.All RSPCA Approved pork comes from Australian farms, with Coles Free Range Pork sourced from southwest Western Australia. Key points:-          Journey for Coles to have free range RSPCA Approved pork -          What happens on the free range RSPCA Approved pork farms that supply Coles -          Welfare benefits for pigs on RSPCA Approved farms -          Other responsible sourcing initiatives from Coles Further links: 
Brian Daly interviews RSPCA Australia’s Senior Scientific Officer, Melina Tensen, to find out more about bobby calves in the Australian dairy industry, and how we can improve their welfare. Many Australians value dairy in their diets but may not be aware of the plight of male dairy calves which are often considered a by-product of the dairy industry.For a dairy cow to produce milk she must first give birth to a calf. In the dairy industry female calves are kept and reared as replacements for the milking herd, but male calves are surplus to the industry’s needs. In Australia, around 675,000 male dairy calves are born every year. Many of these calves are either killed on farm at birth or, in the case of around 450,000 male calves, destined for slaughter at five days old because there isn’t currently a market for them. Calves as young as five days are not equipped to withstand the rigors of transport, and legislation allows calves to be off feed for 30 hours and transported for up to 12 hours. Raising excess dairy calves for veal is one way in which the value of an animal that would otherwise be destined for slaughter at five days old can be increased. By increasing their value and providing an alternative market, there is real potential to improve the welfare of bobby calves.First released in 2017, the RSPCA Approved standards for dairy veal calves are the most recent addition to the Scheme. By developing these standards, the RSPCA’s objective is to support dairy farmers in a dual purpose farming model by encouraging the rearing of these calves for veal, assuring that they will be raised to better welfare standards.While there currently isn’t an RSPCA Approved dairy veal product in the market, the RSPCA has been talking to farmers and industry about increasing the value of an animal that would otherwise be considered a by-product of the dairy industry and the opportunity of supplying a humanely farmed veal or beef product to Australian consumers and food service. Key points:-          What is a bobby calf-          The welfare issues facing bobby calves in Australia -          Innovations in the Australian dairy industry -          Ways that Australians can help bobby calves Further links: 
Brian Daly interviews Cordina Farms CEO, Louise Cordina, to find out more about the meat chicken industry in Australia and what’s been done to improve chicken welfare. Chickens that are grown for meat production (also called broiler chickens) are genetically very different from layer hens (which are bred to produce eggs). Meat chickens have been selectively bred over many generations to grow and gain weight very rapidly, with birds ready for processing at 4-6 weeks old. The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme standards for meat chickens stipulate specific conditions in which birds must be kept, and go above and beyond the current legislation. In 2018, 78% of the meat chickens grown in Australia met the RSPCA Approved farming scheme standards. Meaning that hundreds of millions of chickens lived better lives, from farms with a focus on animal welfare. Companies like Cordina Farms recognise the value in improving animal welfare, and having independent certification from a science based organisation. Their commitment to improving the lives of meat chickens has had great impact on chicken welfare, and should be applauded. Key points:-          The history of the Australian meat chicken industry -          RSPCA Approved meat chicken standards -          How the meat chicken industry in Australia has changed to improve chicken welfareFurther links: 
Brian Daly interviews RSPCA Australia’s Humane Food Manager, Hope Bertram, to find out more about the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme. The RSPCA has developed animal welfare standards for layer hens, pigs, meat chickens, turkeys, salmon and dairy veal calves that set a high level of welfare for the animals in these farming systems. These standards go above and beyond the current legislation in Australia today. Producers whose farms meet the RSPCA’s standards can apply to join the Approved Farming Scheme. Once the farm has been approved, the RSPCA logo may be used on the packaging of product from that farm. Consumers are then able to choose to buy these products, knowing that the animals have been kept according to the RSPCA’s high welfare standards. Approved farms are regularly assessed by RSPCA Assessors to check compliance with the RSPCA welfare standards.The aim of the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme is ultimately to improve the conditions for farm animals. The RSPCA believes that farm animals must be treated in a way that meets their physiological and psychological needs. As well as having appropriate food, shelter and veterinary care, they must have the freedom to express natural behaviours.Many common practices in animal farming do not meet the animals’ needs. However, these practices are not illegal. By raising public awareness and ensuring that consumers have access to higher welfare alternatives, the RSPCA aims to create demand for these higher welfare products. As consumer demand increases, producers will have a greater incentive to adopt humane farming practices. The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme forms part of this strategy.Key points:-          What is the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme -          How the standards are developed -          How the scheme operates -          What the standards cover -          How the scheme is improving the lives of farm animals Further links: 
Brian Daly interviews Three Bean’s Director, Matt Howe, to find out more about Three Beans Cafes early adoption of higher welfare eggs and his perceptions of the egg industry in Australia. The RSPCA is strongly opposed to battery cages and believes there must now be a legislative phase-out of their use. For many years, the RSPCA has campaigned against housing hens in battery cages and raised public awareness of the inherent welfare issues of these systems through education and advertising campaigns. The RSPCA has, and will continue to, lobby governments and the egg industry to stop this inhumane production method in Australia.A very positive and successful move to get hens out of cages was the development of the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme. Egg producers who meet the RSPCA Standards for layer hens can use the RSPCA logo on the pack to show that the hens producing these eggs have been raised in a well-managed, higher welfare system that provides for the behavioural and physiological needs of the hen. Hens raised to the Standards are provided with an environment that enables them to display important behaviours such as nesting, perching, dust bathing, wing flapping, foraging and scratching. Battery cages do not allow hens to perform these behaviours.Companies going the extra mile to source RSPCA Approved eggs should be applauded, and Three Beans have been a long supporter of Rohde's RSPCA Approved eggs.Key points:-          Three Beans journey to sourcing RSPCA Approved eggs from Rohde's -          The welfare issues for layer hens in egg production -          How companies can do better by sourcing higher welfare eggs Further links: 
Brian Daly interviews RSPCA Australia’s Humane Food Manager, Hope Bertram, to find out more about humane food. The RSPCA believes you can eat meat, dairy or eggs and still care about the welfare of the animals that provide it. These animals are living, feeling creatures, capable of experiencing fear, pain and distress. The RSPCA believes all animals should be treated humanely, whether they’re animals we farm for food or live with as companions.Humane food is food that is animal-welfare friendly. Standards on animal-welfare friendly farms are higher than those in conventional systems and those required by law. Their environment provides for the animal’s behavioural and physiological needs. It means that from the paddock to the plate, animals have been treated humanely and with full consideration of their needs.The RSPCA’s Humane Food initiatives form part of RSPCA Australia’s efforts to improve the welfare of farm animals. The RSPCA aims to increase the number of animals farmed in higher welfare production systems and to increase the market share of higher welfare products available to consumers.The RSPCA is working to educate consumers about where their food comes from and increase demand for higher welfare products through its Humane Food programs, including the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme and Choose Wisely.Key points:-          History of RSPCA’s role in agriculture -          How animals are farmed in Australia today -          How legislation works in relation to farm animal welfare -          Some of the biggest animal welfare concerns today for Australian farm animals -          The RSPCA’s approach to engaging with farming industry and encouraging change for better animal welfare Further links:
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