The Advertising Standards Authority has rejected complaints that Red Tractor’s 2018 advertising campaign made misleading claims about animal welfare.
The campaign featured a television advert showing a red tractor towing a number of trailers representing different farm sectors, with a voice that stated: “Behind a Red Tractor is peace of mind when putting food upon your table. UK farmed, meticulously checked, just look for the Red Tractor label.”
It added: “From field to basket it feels fantastic to know we’re always there to ensure your food is traceable, safe and farmed with care. Just look for the red tractor”.
A total of 29 complainants challenged whether the adverts, which aired on national TV and other outlets in the autumn, were misleading. These included vegan campaign group Viva!, which claimed the Red Tractor scheme did not guarantee animal welfare.
ASA rejected the complaints, ruling that no further action was necessary. In its response to the complaints, Assured Food Standards (AFS), which runs the scheme, said food and drink claiming to be Red Tractor could be traced from farms to pack and every stage of the supply chain was required to be certified to their standards.
It said robust on-farm standards based on scientific evidence, farming best practice and consumer demand were in place on Red Tractor certified farms, including substantial animal health and welfare standards. There were also robust food safety and bio-security standards and procedures in place to help minimise any risk to consumers and any issues were dealt with in a robust manner, it added.
AFS also stressed that every Red Tractor standard was routinely inspected on every farm on an annual or 18-month cycle.
In its ruling the ASA said it recognised that what constituted an appropriate degree of animal welfare on farms was a subjective issue. “But in the context of the ads we considered viewers would understand that the scheme had enforceable standards in place that went beyond those required for the farming of livestock,” it said.
ASA acknowledged the information provided by AFS, which demonstrated that standards had been put in place for livestock, crops, dairy products and other fresh produce. “The standards in place for livestock were detailed for each animal and included requirements for housing, shelter and handling facilities, its feed and water, its transportation, the responsible use of agricultural chemicals and the animal’s health and welfare,” it said.
It singled out the health plan put in place for pigs under the scheme and the information showed that procedures covered the whole of the production cycle.
Based on the information provided by AFS, ASA concluded the scenes which included animals were representative of the conditions under which they would be kept.
It concluded: “Because standards had been put in place to protect the safety of the Red Tractor scheme’s produce, that those standards went beyond those required for the farming of livestock and a regime of inspection of adherence to those standards was in place, we concluded that the ads were not misleading.”
A Red Tractor spokesperson said: “Red Tractor welcomes the ASA ruling to not uphold the small amount of complaints received against our TV advert aired in September and October 2018.
“Red Tractor standards have been independently verified as some of the highest in the world and the advert shows consumers the lengths we go to in ensuring food is traceable, safe and responsibly produced.”
This decision comes hot on the heels of the advertising watchdog’s decision to uphold a complaint by NPA chief executive Zoe Davies and others about a Viva! advertising campaign shown in cinemas in December. The advert, which made misleading claims about pig welfare, was banned.