Activists in the Animal Justice Project are calling for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) to end its assurance scheme.

The Animal Justice Project said RSPCA Assured is a “contentious” food labelling scheme that thousands have signed its petition against.

The petition has amassed almost 5,000 signatures so far, and the animal rights organisation has said it will be delivering the petition results in person to the RSPCA headquarters on Saturday (June 15).

The protest has been organised alongside local group Vegan Hub and is being supported by television personality Peter Egan. 

Former RSPCA trustee and founder of Humane Being, Jane Tredgett, said: “As a former vice-chair of the RSPCA board, I am disappointed that the RSPCA is not leading the way towards a more plant-based, cruelty-free world.

“The RSPCA should use its power to lead much-needed change that will prevent animal suffering, protect the planet, and reduce disease risks for people.” 

Animal Justice Project campaigner, Sean Barrs, said: “The RSPCA helps dogs and cats, so why are they assuring the slaughter of pigs and chickens?

“As society progresses, so should our views on how we treat other sentient creatures. Even RSPCA CEO Chris Sherwood says all animals deserve the RSPCA protections.

“Show us how woke you really are, RSPCA, and stop assuring the exploitation of animals!” 

RSPCA Assured

Founded in 1994, the RSPCA Assured scheme is celebrating its 30-year anniversary this year.

An RSPCA spokesperson said the animal welfare charity has been working to improve the lives of farmed animals for 200 years, but knows there is still more to do.

“RSPCA higher welfare standards have been independently proven to make lives better for millions of animals every year. It is the difference between a hen spending her life in a cage, or not.

“A mother pig giving birth in a farrowing crate, or not. Pigs having comfortable bedding to sleep on, or not. It means salmon has compulsory veterinary health welfare plans, and stocking density is half that seen in America.

“An independent review of RSPCA Assured in 2021 found it was making a ‘positive and significant impact on improving the lives of 136 million animals a year in the UK’. 

However, the spokesperson said any concerns about welfare on RSPCA Assured farms are taken “extremely seriously”. 

“RSPCA Assured works hard to ensure the RSPCA welfare standards are followed and any potential breaches dealt with quickly,” they said.

“Every member of the RSPCA Assured scheme, which is non-profit and the UK’s only animal-welfare focussed assurance scheme, receives an annual assessment by highly-trained specialist assessors and may be subject to additional spot checks.

“If we stepped back from RSPCA Assured, we risk leaving millions of farmed animals with even less protection. 

“We know that there is still much more to be done and progress isn’t always easy but we’re determined to keep helping improve the lives of farm animals now and in the future.”