Readers' letters - March 3
Free range milk is already available for customers
Regarding Asda and its new free range milk, I would like to highlight that consumers have always had a choice when it comes to supporting a pasture-based farming system and buying free-range milk. Organic dairy farms in the UK have to meet strict independent legally binding production standards and are audited annually in line with a range of regulatory criteria enforced by organic certification bodies.
These standards state that organic cows must, by law, spend as much time outside on pasture as conditions allow and that they must be fed a grass-rich diet. In practical terms, this means organic cows graze for an average of seven months of the year, and a minimum of 60 per cent of their diet must be from forage, such as grass.
Therefore, free-range milk has been readily available to the consumer in the form of organic for over twenty years. Amongst other environmental, animal welfare and biodiversity requirements, organic cows are fed a diet free from artificial fertilisers, chemicals and genetically modified ingredients.
They are also only given antibiotics when they’re ill and NOT as a routine.
Organic milk also provides several health benefits as supported by a growing body of scientific research, including the most recent study published in February 2016 in the British Journal of Nutrition. This research shows organic dairy contains around 50 per cent more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than non-organic.
While we welcome pasture-based innovation, to consider the development of these free-range principles as providing the consumer with a new choice would be incorrect.
OMSCo executive chairman