It’s National Sandwich Week and the RSPCA has launched a ‘Fairer fillings’ campaign. But will people make an effort to buy ethical sandwiches, and is it practical when buying food that’s made to order?
While many of us think about the meat we buy at home and try to buy ethically, research by the RSPCA shows very few of us give animal welfare a second thought when grabbing a sandwich at lunchtime.
Of the 2,000 people questioned, more than half said they considered animal welfare when buying meat such as steak or pork chops – and yet only one in 10 cared about where their meat came from when purchasing sandwiches.
But how easy is it for us to make ethical choices when eating out? Unless you’re dining at a fancy restaurant where menus often gush about the history of your meal, you’re given very little information about where your food comes from.
Sandwich chains are leading the way
The ‘Fairer fillings’ campaign encourages us to look out for the ‘Freedom Food’ logo – which indicates that animals are reared to the RSPCA’s strict welfare standards. Sainsbury’s and the Co-op both sell Freedom Food approved sandwiches.
This is all a good start – and other improvements are being made too. As we mentioned in a Conversation last week, rules about how labels explain the food’s country of origin could soon be extended to meat, poultry and fish when used as an ingredient in processed foods. This means you’ll be able to find out where your sandwich’s ham is from.
And many of the supermarkets or chains that have pre-packed sandwiches provide information on the origin of your meat and fish, and Pret, Subway, Starbucks, M&S and Waitrose only use free-range eggs in their own brand sandwiches. But it’s not so straightforward in places where your food is made to order.
Are you eating an ‘ethical’ lunch?
I tend to have a predominantly vegetarian diet and always buy free-range or organic eggs, but then happily buy a quiche from my local deli not knowing what type of eggs have been used.
If I were to spend £5 on a sandwich in an artisan bakery then I would expect the meat to have been sourced ethically – but there’s still no guarantee. And is it fair to expect the same for a sandwich costing £1.50 from bakery or my local shop?
Maybe it all comes down to the same odd adage: ‘You get what you pay for’? Or perhaps people just don’t want to think about where their food comes from every time they want to grab a sandwich?