[imagesource: Fair Cape Dairies]
Cape Town company Fair Cape Dairies might tell you its cows are “happy”, but that would be a touch misleading.
In fact, a four-member appeals committee at the Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) has just ruled that it cannot use the words “#HappyCows” and “humane” in its advertising, following a lengthy battle between Fair Cape Dairies and the Vegan Society of SA.
Back in 2019, 11 complaints were made to the ARB about Fair Cape Dairies’ advertising, on behalf of the Vegan Society to draw attention to the dairy industry as a whole, and at first, the company came out tops.
TimesLIVE has the full story:
It [Fair Cape Dairies] submitted a Dairy Standards Agency audit in which it scored well in numerous areas, such as pain-free milking, cattle condition, gentle handling and care of calves.
The watchdog said within the dairy farming context, “the cows are as humanely treated and therefore as ‘happy’ as possible”.
But the appeals committee said it “erred in holding that the advertising in issue must be viewed through the lens of the practices that are generally accepted in the commercial dairy industry”.
It added: “It may be that the reasonable consumer expects some compromise being made on the freedom of cows who are farmed so as to produce milk… However, in our view, it cannot be said that the reasonable consumer who purchases milk expects the cow to have been raped or her babies to have been taken from her at birth so as to maximise the milk available for sale.”
Yeah, the appeals committee did not hold back.
They added that the cows likely experience physical and emotional trauma, and that dairy farmers are aware of this.
“Fair Cape puts itself forward as a local dairy farmer who is making a concerted effort to minimise [its] environmental impact, whose reliance on solar energy creates ‘a more comfortable and less stressful environment for their cows’, and for whom ‘the welfare of their animals is paramount’.
“Fair Cape should accept that it goes too far to describe its cows as happy and humanely treated.”
As someone who has made the switch to oat milk, I remain confident that the oats do not suffer “physical and emotional trauma”. There’s also the added sweet, lingering taste of moral superiority, although I’m sure a study will emerge soon pointing out that oats have feelings, too.
Fair Cape Dairies may have been singled out in the ruling, but clearly the practices mentioned above are par for the course across the industry.
Jo Fairbrother, speaking on behalf of the 11 complainants, issued a statement following the ruling:
“Consumers care about their food choices and many care deeply about animals. For these reasons, consumers are increasingly demanding transparency from these industries,” she said.
“It is unfortunate that greenwashing and humane-washing advertising techniques are extremely common and heavily on the increase. These advertising techniques are designed to purposely manipulate and exploit the good faith of well-meaning consumers.”
If you didn’t already know that the milk you buy has a complicated backstory, you should now.
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