CIWF Logo Food Business
Search icon

French government agency ANSES publishes guidelines for developing animal welfare labelling

News Section Icon Published 24/06/2024

As part of the Farm to Fork Strategy, which includes a proposal by the European Commission for animal welfare labelling regulations, and based on three years of collective expertise, ANSES ( the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety) shared its guidelines for developing animal welfare labelling for animal products on 2 May 2024.

Un auditeur évalue le bien-être des vaches laitières dans un élevage


After noting the increase in private initiatives for animal welfare evaluation, ANSES proposes a method to harmonise existing and future labels.

Key recommendations include:

  • Adopting a five-level animal welfare system for mandatory labelling (or four levels for voluntary labelling), ranging from best (A) to lowest (E), with the lowest level corresponding to regulatory compliance.
  • Focusing evaluations on animal welfare state through outcome indicators, rather than limiting evaluations to the method of production, which corresponds to a potential of animal welfare.
  • Considering animals at both the production and breeding stages.
  • Taking into account the entire lifespan of animals, from farming to slaughter, for both production and breeding stages.
  • Including all risk factors affecting animal welfare in the evaluation protocol (genetic characteristics, farming practices, handling and training, housing, feeding, animal health, painful practices such as mutilations, reproduction).
  • Building evaluation frameworks with all stakeholders: industry, scientists and animal welfare NGOs.
  • Allowing evaluation criteria to evolve over time based on scientific advances and within industries, so that the labelling becomes a real tool for progress.


In its publication, ANSES emphasises the need to evaluate animal-based scientific indicators. The report presents two main categories of indicators:

  • Resource-based indicators: Assess the living conditions provided to the animal (e.g., stocking density, access to outdoors, presence of natural light and enrichments) – these are the "means".
  • Animal-based indicators: Directly evaluate the animal's state of welfare (e.g., expression of positive or negative behaviours, presence of lesions, body condition, cleanliness of the coat) – these are the "outcomes".

While ANSES identifies these indicators as complementary, it recommends that animal-based indicators should always be prioritised in the development or modification of an evaluation protocol to truly assess animal welfare rather than just the welfare potential provided by the system.

The proposed labelling system includes five levels from A to E (for mandatory labelling, A to D for voluntary systems) based on the aggregation of different scores obtained at each life stage (farm, transport, slaughter) and each production stage (breeding and production stages). Thus, “only the overall result of the animal welfare evaluation for both breeding and production stages", represented by a letter from A to E (or A to D), will be communicated to consumers through labelling.


ANSES’s guidelines take a significant step in identifying many necessary conditions for effective animal welfare labelling. However, a major characteristic should be reconsidered: the lack of emphasis on the importance of method of production in consumer information, which is a key determinant not only for consumer purchasing decisions aimed at improving animal welfare but also for the welfare potential provided by a given system.

According to a 2023 Ifop survey, 82% of French consumers pay attention to method of production. Another 2023 BVA survey showed that a quarter of French consumers prioritise method of production in their food product choices, with 90% indicating they would refer to this information if it were clearly displayed. This information is simple and easily understandable for consumers as it informs them whether the animal had access to the outdoors or was raised in cages, for instance.

This information is based on the concept of "animal welfare potential", meaning the capacity of a given farming system to ensure animal welfare. A system with low potential, such as caged laying hens or conventional broiler chickens at 22 individuals/m², can never achieve satisfactory animal welfare levels. For more on the concept of animal welfare potential and its application to labelling, consult a recent scientific publication from CIWF’s research team.

Thus, method of production labelling is an essential and simple first level of information to inform consumers and help them choose systems with higher animal welfare potential.

That said, ANSES’s report aims to establish guidelines for labelling not the method of production but animal welfare. In this context, it is clear that animal welfare grading should be based on a rigorous animal welfare assessment at all stages of production. This evaluation should be based, as ANSES recommends, on both resource indicators (considering method of production characteristics such as density or outdoor access) and outcome indicators directly measured on animals, assessing their health, behaviour, and physical and mental condition.


In 2018, the Casino Group, in partnership with CIWF France and two animal welfare organisations, LFDA and OABA, launched the first animal welfare labelling in France. Quickly, several other stakeholders joined the initiative, which has since spread. Initially applied to chickens, the label will extend to other species in the coming months and years (including pigs and laying hens).

Consumers receive two types of information: the animal welfare level, ranging from A to E, and the method of production. The score is based on an annual audit at all stages of the animal's life, conducted by an independent and trained control body.

Explication de l'étiquette bien-être animal accompagnée d'une barquette de poulet Loué

CIWF is pleased to see that the operating principles of the EBEA align with all ANSES recommendations, while also integrating the method of production into consumer information. This label thus provides clear and reliable information to consumers on the animal welfare level associated with marketed products and should serve as a model for the generalisation of labelling at the European level.

Five years after its launch: where is the EBEA now?

  • 24 members, including producers and manufacturers, retailers, and animal welfare NGOs.
  • About 30 product lines labelled for animal welfare.
  • Nearly 300 million labelled products since the initiative's launch.
  • 40% of French broiler chicken farmers audited by the EBEA, 60% of free-range farmers (Label Rouge and Organic).
  • 6 retail chains (Carrefour, Casino, Lidl, Auchan, Monoprix, and Franprix) have deployed the level C on their own-branded chicken to highlight products meeting their commitment to the Better Chicken Commitment. 


The lack of a recommendation from the Agency on making such labelling mandatory is also regrettable. For greater efficiency, CIWF believes that such labelling should be mandatory in France and throughout the EU. Mandatory labelling would serve as a harmonisation tool across EU countries and would be more likely perceived as reliable by consumers, thus becoming part of their decision-making process if it were obligatory. Furthermore, voluntary labelling leads to a more limited coverage of labelled products, as it generally involves the best-rated products, leaving out those from conventional farming and thus limiting the shift towards products from higher welfare farming systems.


You are using an outdated browser which we do not support. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

If you have any further questions regarding this, or any other matter, please get in touch with us at We aim to respond to all queries within two working days. However, due to the high volume of correspondence that we receive, it may occasionally take a little longer. Please do bear with us if this is the case. Alternatively, if your query is urgent, you can contact our Supporter Engagement Team on +44 (0)1483 521 953 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).