How To Choose Higher-Welfare Meat
Over the last year or so, we have seen a tremendous demand for better meat. Not for more of the meat we’re already eating, but for meat that is of the highest quality possible and whose provenance is fully traceable.
With a huge focus on our environmental footprint as well as ongoing concerns for animal welfare, it seems that how we choose to source and eat one of the most contentious ingredients on our plates is now more important than ever.
Working closely with our partners, and whilst considering the impact on our planet, we are committed to the highest standards of animal welfare.
From rearing to feeding and labelling, we have put together a comprehensive guide to our Butchers meat so that you know exactly what you’re shopping for.
Do have a read, it’s one of the most important things we’ve ever written. And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
N.B. The below guide refers to the meat in our Butchers section only. For meat-based fillings in our pies as well as our sauces and stocks, please do check individual product listings and/or labels.
J.W. Galloway Beef and Lamb
All our Beef and Lamb from J.W. Galloway are procured from known Scottish farms, who have passed the QMS (Quality Meat Scotland Assurance Scheme) recognised by the Scotch Beef and lamb logo on the pack. This logo is world renowned and means that the beef and lamb have been born and raised in Scotland and reared to the highest Animal welfare and environmental standards, ensuring that only the best quality meat is bought and butchered.
The longest established scheme of its kind in the world, under the QMS Cattle & Sheep Assurance Scheme, cattle and sheep must have been born, reared and slaughtered in Scotland and spent their entire life in assured holdings. This also covers feed suppliers, transportation, auction and slaughter by approved processors.
As part of the scheme, a mandatory Animal Welfare and Wellbeing Charter (approved by the Scottish Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) must be followed, it recognises the five freedoms below:
- Freedom from hunger and malnutrition
- Freedom from discomfort
- Freedom from pain, injury or disease
- Freedom to express normal behaviour
- Freedom from fear and distress
It’s clear to see that an animal’s wellbeing is just as important as their welfare. Did you know cows can have best friends? One of the most important factors for us here at 44 Foods is that cows have led both a healthy and happy life.
In regards to feeding under the QMS Cattle and Sheet Assurance Scheme, grass and forage make up the majority of the diet of cattle and sheep but it can be necessary to provide livestock with supplementary feed as a way to maintain their condition and welfare during the winter months. J.W. Galloway hold record of what each animal eats, which can be traced back to the farmer or feed manufacturer.
The QMS Cattle & Sheep Assurance Scheme also covers medication, welfare management, rearing and even has requirements for how farm dogs are kept.
Animal wellbeing is the most important factor.
Here at 44 Foods, and in partnership with JW Galloway, our main focus is animal wellbeing. The QMS Cattle & Sheep Assurance Scheme ensures that cattle are treated in the best way possible and the quality of their meat reflects that.
Other factors such as feeding are essential too of course, but labels such as ‘grass-fed’ provide no guarantee for the welfare of the animal as a whole.
We are proud to be working closely with Buttercross Butchers : Farmed Based Pork Supplier who supply the pork in our Butcher’s section.
Buttercross have their roots in agriculture and more specifically, in commercial pig farming.
Their own animal welfare standards are excellent and they offer livestock significantly more outdoor space than is legally required, as well as high levels of shelter and bedding levels, wallow, and shade provision, all coupled with quiet and effective livestock handling methods.
Buttercross pigs are born indoors and are then reared for the vast majority of their lives outdoors and with plenty of space, care and freedom. Piglets born indoors have better protection from outdoor elements. From Buttercross’s experience, this extra protection at the start of their lives gives the piglets a much stronger basis to grow from once they are outdoors, and this invariably leads to better quality pork.
They are fed exclusively a vegetarian, cereal-based diet, without growth promotors, GM products or routine use of antibiotic.
Did you know that…?
Free-range pork is not a legally protected term. Pork labelled as free-range (or otherwise!) may well be free-range as a consequence of being reared to the highest welfare standards, but with no legal requirement, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what that looks like.
Our pork is not labelled free-range because the piglets are born indoors and reared outdoors with space and care.
Our chicken and turkey partnership with Adlington is one we truly value.
For three generations, Adlington have been providing high quality meat for the British fine food market. They are true devotees of the ‘field to fork’ philosophy, and their attention to detail enforces their passion and belief of producing the best quality poultry possible.
Their English Label chicken are free-range with access to unlimited outdoor space with shaded areas and dust bowls for bathing. These birds are reared for 72 days and are part of a modern brood and move system, ensuring they have a clean environment to grown in at all stages in their life. Adlington source food and bedding of the highest quality from local producers, including the neighbouring arable farmer who provides feed oats and the subsequent straw for bedding.
Adlington take the welfare of their turkeys very seriously and are proud of the high standards of care they provide. The turkeys are reared naturally using the long-established traditional turkey farming methods that have been passed down through the family. Their turkeys are oat-fed which makes them delicious, plump and gives their meat that beautiful golden colour.
And although we don’t have a huge selection of duck, Adlington’s ducks are also free-range and reared to the highest welfare standards.
Using traditional curing, air-drying and smoking techniques, The Real Cure are purveyors of some of the best charcuterie in England. Based in rural Dorset, their multi-award-winning products are now available at 44 foods.
Their beef is from Jurassic Coast Farm. Their pork comes from native breed pigs, who spend their entire lives outdoors. Their venison is wild and has grazed on a varied and natural diet. It is sourced from across the British countryside, making it both a lean and tasty cured meat.