Study on animal welfare labelling (2022)

Cerebrus Associates has recently assisted ICF to gather evidence to support potential initiatives concerning animal welfare labelling in the European Union. The study has involved collecting and analysing qualitative and quantitative data on consumers’ awareness of animal welfare standards and demand for further information. It has also involved gathering data on existing labelling schemes with animal welfare claims found in the EU and assessing their designs and impacts. The work was commissioned by the European Commission (Directorate General for Health and Food Safety, DG SANTE).

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Chicken welfare at catching

The ways in which chickens are caught can cause injuries and millions of chickens arrive dead at the slaughterhouse each year (dead-on-arrival [DOA]: 0.1% to 0.6%).

We conducted a systematic review to better understand the welfare impacts of various catching methods for laying hens and broiler chickens. Papers were screened against clear inclusion and exclusion criteria. Twenty-two papers met the criteria and were included, grouped around three themes. Each paper was assessed for the risk of possible bias in six domains (no randomization, no blinding of assessors or data analysts, not reporting missing data, selective reporting, or other types of bias) and three levels (low risk; some concerns; high risk), as well as an overall bias judgement.

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Distraction and the inhibition of responses for food reward after satiation

Multi-tasking with electronic devices, such as our smart phones or computers, has become common behavior in everyday life, and increasingly occurs during consumption of food. Such “distracted eating” has been shown to cause overeating, is associated with increased BMI, and with increased choices of palatable foods. However, it is unclear how distraction increases food intake. This study aimed to assess how distraction affects motivated, goal-directed responses for food reward after satiation.

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Oro-sensory exposure, eating rate, satiation and endocrine responses

Greater oro-sensory exposure (OSE) increases insulin responsiveness. In contrast, pancreatic polypeptide responses are stronger when OSE is reduced and the eating rate (ER) is fast. Insulin and PP responses may mediate the independent effects of OSE and ER on food intake. These may be beneficial eating strategies, particularly for type 2 diabetic patients, to control food intake and maintain glucose homeostasis.

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Increased oro-sensory exposure duration decreases meal size, but increases in taste intensity do not affect meal size

Oro-sensory exposure duration and taste intensity were manipulated using model foods. In this Project ‘Satiation’ study, increased oro-sensory exposure duration decreased meal size, and increased taste intensity did not affect meal size. Microstructure of eating behavior characteristics may explain differences in intake.

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Eating when distracted is associated with increased food consumption and is a risk for becoming overweight

Eating when distracted is associated with increased food consumption and is a risk for becoming overweight. Project 'Satiation' found that distraction-induced decreases in neural taste processing contribute to individual differences in the susceptibility for overeating. Being mindful about the taste of food during consumption could perhaps be part of successful prevention and treatment of overweight and obesity.

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Environmental enrichment for pigs

The welfare of farmed pigs can be improved by modifying their environment with bedding, substrates, or objects, so that they can perform more of their pig-specific behaviours. However, scientific knowledge is not necessarily reaching farms.

A recent review published by Heleen van de Weerd and Sarah Ison examines why the industry has not yet fully embraced the benefits of effective enrichment. Read more “Environmental enrichment for pigs”