Wanting to buy meat online? With all the different awards, labels and assurance schemes plastered over almost every online meat supplier, it’s becoming more and more difficult to understand which ones you should be looking for when buying meat online, let alone what they even mean! Here’s a list of the most common labels and assurance schemes we’ve come across while working with some of the UK’s most trusted farmers, what they actually mean, and what you should keep in mind about them when you buy meat online!
Perhaps the most common assurance scheme found on labels when trying to buy meat online is The Red Tractor scheme. It’s run and carried-out by the “Assured Food Standards” who through this label ultimately assure consumers that the food product in question has been produced in the UK, is traceable, safe to eat and has been produced “responsibly” in line with government legislation. A good label to look for when you buy meat online as it makes sure all your bases are reasonably well covered!
The Quality Standard Mark Scheme for beef and lamb is definitely an assurance scheme you want to be looking out for when buying meat online. It underlines one of the most stringent, independently-inspected levels of quality assurance for meat in the United Kingdom. Not too different to the Red Tractor, these standards guarantee a high level of food safety, animal welfare and care for the environment. What makes this assurance scheme stand out is how it certifies the natural quality of the feed given to reared animals — a very important factor when weighing up the meat you buy online.
Undoubtedly the most prominent organic standards assurance scheme, the Soil association is known to certify health and welfare benefits for the animals delivering your beef and the farms from which they come, on a level superseding entry-level british standards and legislation. To be certified by the soil association a farmer is not permitted to use confinement systems, must ensure all their animals are free range with access to clean water as well as shade or shelter, and consume grass that has not been treated by man-made pesticides or chemicals. We also recommend looking out for this label when you buy meat online as the soils association is very careful in making sure the only ingredients added to soil association certified organic products are indeed organic, which isn’t always the case with other bodies!
The ‘RSPCA assured’ scheme centres around improved welfare standards for the animals that produce the meat you eat. The assurance scheme spans across both rearing systems that are based indoors and outdoors; ensuring that the animals are given sufficient space to practice their natural behaviours and are provided with ample bedding and enrichment materials. Important for when you’re deciding where to buy meat online, the RSPCA Assured label enforces a rigorous monitoring system for health and welfare on the farms and specifies stunning slaughter processes.