finally, Woolworths has reversed their earlier position (that it is against company policy to reveal the names of their ‘free range’ auditors). they have provided me with contact details for auditors of their ‘free range’ poultry, lamb and beef. (i am not going to post that info, but if you want it, fill in the contact form on my blog and i can email them to you. i promise to follow it up and post whatever info i get out of the auditors on the site. if you can think of any questions you’d like me to ask, put a comment on here or fill in the contact form)
here is the reply from Woolworths’ Commercial Manager of Meat, Seafood and Poultry:
All of your information is correct and I am willing to provide the contact details for our auditors so you can gain clarity and peace of mind.
It is important to complete the Free range(FR) story as it goes wider than Poultry and includes Beef and Lamb. These two specie also have no FR protocols governing the requirements for production.
Woolworths has led the industry in developing FR production specifications aligned to the British and European standard. SAPA has used the Woollies specification as a guideline for their proposals to Government.
We have received many accolades for the progressive stance we have taken regarding FR and this year have been awarded a Golden Egg award by CIWF ( Compassion in World Farming) for our progressive stance in selling only Free Range Eggs.
Most recently we have also embarked on journey to protect the indiscriminate killing of problem predators in sheep farming and have worked with the Landmark Foundation in both sponsorship and in developing farmer guidelines – http://www.landmarkfoundation.org.za.
As you can see we are very proud of our record of doing business ethically and transparently.
In all instances we use independent auditors, both in SA and Namibia, from where we procure FR beef.
Please feel free to contact me should you require more information.
nice one Woolworths. thanks for getting back to me and other consumers via this blog.
questions for the independent auditors (feel free to contact me with any others you may have)
- what standards do you use? i.e. what stds have to be met to qualify as ‘free range’?
- who sets these standards? (you, WW, an international body)
- how often do you ‘audit’ farms?
- what happens if producers are not meeting standards?
- how ‘independent’ are you? i mean, if there are no laws regarding ‘free range’, if a producer isn’t meeting stds, and you tell WW, and WW still puts ‘free range’ on the product, what do you do? would you raise this with someone? who?
(p.s. if any of you haven’t heard of Compassion in World Farming, please go and check out the SA website or the international one. they do great work, was planning a blog post about them sometime in the future)