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The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA), Aviation House, 125 Kingsway, London, WC2B 6NH


The PFMA Responds on Recent Farmed Rabbit Welfare Coverage

The PFMA is aware of the recent media coverage in the Daily Mail/The Mirror, which reported shocking and clearly unacceptable welfare conditions for farmed rabbits in Europe. Both articles claim that rabbits are farmed to meet the demands of the UK pet food industry, however this is not the case.

NO rabbit (or any other animal) is specifically reared and slaughtered for pet food. Pet food manufacturers use ingredients that are surplus to the human food chain and these ingredients are referred to as ‘by-products’.

Any rabbit material in pet foods is a by-product of rabbits raised for human consumption. Whilst the UK imports 97 tonnes of rabbit meat for human consumption, the pet food industry itself imports much less than that in the form of by-products. The suggestion that the pet food industry imports meat from 300,000 rabbits is incorrect.

The PFMA represents an industry that is committed to animal welfare and fully expects animal welfare to be strictly applied and enforced throughout Europe. We are keen to understand more about the current state of farmed rabbit welfare in the EU and will investigate further with our European Association, FEDIAF. We will also work with members and their supply chains as part of this process.

The pet food industry operates to stringent standards to produce products of the highest quality and safety in strict accordance with all areas of legislation including animal welfare.

For more information on how pet food is made, the ingredients commonly used and the regulations behind the industry please visit: There is also a short 2-minute animation explaining the process.

Additional Information:

The principal piece of legislation governing this area is the Council Directive 98/58/EC on the protection of animals kept for farming purposes which lays down rules for the protection of all animal species kept for the production of food, wool, skin or fur or for other farming purposes. 

These rules are based on the European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes. They reflect the 'Five Freedoms' as adopted by the Farm Animal Welfare Council:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst - access to fresh water and a diet for full health and vigour,
  • Freedom from discomfort - an appropriate environment with shelter and comfortable rest area,
  • Freedom from pain, injury and disease - prevention or rapid treatment,
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour - adequate space and facilities, company of the animal's own kind,
  • Freedom from fear and distress - conditions and treatment, which avoid mental sufferings.

The UK, as with all EU Member States, is obliged to enforce these rules, which are controlled and monitored by the local enforcement authorities.



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